File Retention Tips

Before you start reading the below information, we would like to remind anyone referring to this page that when a file/record is referred to, it covers both the electronic format and hard copy format. When you are forming your record retention guideline, it is so important that all members of your organisation know this. Just because the hard copy has been destroyed, this does not make you compliant right away; are there also electronic copies of the file to delete?

Many of our clients are always asking us for file retention tips and we’re not surprised…

Organisations are constantly trying to keep track of an ever-increasing number of files and electronic documents, all jam-packed with sensitive/personal information. Where is that important document? How long should you keep it for? When can you legally destroy it? File retention can be very confusing! What’s more, keeping information for longer than necessary can actually increase your liability by exposing your information to privacy breach risks.

ADDS can help.

We cannot offer legal advice and we always recommend that you get your legal team to sign off retention schedules first, but with the help of some amazing resources from The National Archives, CIPD,  HM Revenue & Customs and The SRA, we have drawn together links to their advice to help you:

Do you know the “how long” and “when” of your business documents?

While staying on top of an overwhelming amount of data can seem impossible at times, adhering to the retention schedules that apply to your business records is crucial for reducing risk to your business. Making sure that documents are catalogued with respect to retention requirements, protected throughout designated retention periods, and disposed of in a timely manner reduces legal liability and enables compliance with the Data Protection Act. As a result, your records management policy should define the lifecycle of documents and ensure proper final disposition of expired files.

As your records and information management experts, Archive Document Data Storage (ADDS) provides a reliable, professional solution for managing your document retention inventory. We offer a comprehensive process that analyses your records inventory, classifies your files, and monitors each document retention schedule, thus allowing you to reduce in-house storage and administrative costs, minimise non-compliance and legal risks, and zero in on your core competencies.

A records retention solution tailored to your business and industry

Many organisations have multiple departments, each with unique document retention needs. Document retention schedules can also be industry-specific, which is why it’s important to have a records management partner who understands the nuances of your business sector and each department’s specific needs. Through our File Queen Consultation, we help you organise your records, create a database, index your files, make sure they are preserved and protected throughout the retention lifecycle, and securely destroy your documents when they expire.

Similarly, our Records Storage solution enables each individual file to be barcoded, assigned a document retention schedule, and tracked within our inventory management database. On an annual basis, we provide you with a report that enables a complete analysis of your document retention inventory.

If you have any doubt about how long you’re supposed to keep your business information, a call to your company solicitor is a good place to start. The next step is implementing a solution that allows for proper management of your document retention schedules. ADDS can help. Since 1987, we’ve provided comprehensive document retention management solutions for businesses throughout London, Bristol, Bath and Swindon that include:

  • law firms and solicitors
  • private doctors and hospitals
  • mortgage and loan providers
  • charities and nonprofits

No matter which type of business you run, we’ll thoroughly assess your business and compliance needs and provide you with a solution tailored specifically to your organisation.

For more information about how ADDS can help you with document retention schedules, please contact us by phone or complete the form on the page.

Your Record Retention Tool

So many of our clients ask us for a record retention schedule template – while we cannot legally advise you of the length of time to keep documents for, we can supply you with a template to populate. Below you will find a template the File Queen has placed together for you to use internally. It has currently been populated with a selection of the CIPD’s HR record retention guidelines as of March 2018. These are just used as a demo to show you how a record retention schedule could look.

In this template we have not only requested the type of record and department owner, we have also added additional checks:

  • Does the record exist in hard copy and electronic format?
  • Who should be running the retention checks?
  • How often should retention checks be run?
  • Who should be signing off the destruction?
  • Are two signatures required for destruction?
  • Who is responsible for destruction?

Remember that this is just a template with a selection of info from CIPD which is not updated – it is a tool for you to rewrite.

Click here to download the record retention schedule template.

Happy record retention planning!

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