The importance of accurate and up to date documentation within Human Resources cannot be underestimated. An employee’s record of documentation is essentially a written account of his or her actions, discussions, performance, positive contributions and any disciplinary proceedings. Such documents may be necessary to support urgent workplace actions or engagements. Furthermore, without access to HR records it can be difficult, if not impossible to effectively monitor performance and productivity levels. A lack of such important information can hinder both the growth of the business and the development of the individual employee, meaning everyone benefits from access to accurate, up-to-date records.
Whilst documentation relating to current employees will require more frequent access, something which is often underestimated is the importance of leaver or ‘ex-employee’ files. We understand that no employer likes to dwell on the possibility of litigation, but a termination may result in legal action. A complete employee record could provide justification for your actions as a company. Needless to say, both current and leaver employee files contain a wealth of information that needs to be stored in a secure, accessible environment.
Keeping employee files isn't just a convenience for businesses, it's also a legal responsibility. Maintaining certain employee documentation is required under statuary retention guidelines for example wage and tax information. Furthermore, access to files containing such personal information is required to ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2018.
The new GDPR data protection legislation that came into force in 2018 aims to protect personal information belonging to individuals across the UK and Europe... so how does it affect HR departments? Well HR departments notoriously store and process large quantities of personal documentation relating to their employees, meaning they have a lot of data subject to GDPR.
GDPR sets out strict mandates around reporting the theft or loss of personal data. While for most companies, this is more of an issue for customer data, be aware that employee-related data is still highly personal in nature. Under GDPR employees also have a number of rights to their documentation; including the ‘right to be forgotten’ and to ‘withdraw their consent’. In order to process such requests, organisations must ensure the correct policies and procedures are in place for accessing the records, and taking the necessary action to complete the request. If HR departments cannot locate documentation requested by the individual, they will fail to comply with GDPR.
Another key reason why organisations should scan their HR files into an electronic format, is to ensure they are adhering to retention periods. Much legislation exists which stipulates statutory retention periods for specific HR records. For example, The Taxes Management Act 1970 requires organisations to retain wage/salary records (including overtime, bonuses and expenses) for a minimum of 6 years. These types are records are processed by almost every business in the UK, unless third party accounting organisations are used. More specific records which apply to a smaller bracket of organisations, may have much longer retention periods. For example, any medical records under the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations (which contain details of employees exposed to asbestos) have retention periods of 40 years from the date of last entry. At Storetec, we advise that if employers are in doubt, it’s always a good idea to keep records for at least 6 years, to cover the time limit for bringing any civil legal action.
Compliance is something HR professionals and organisations cannot avoid, and in our experience, the best recordkeeping method is to scan the HR files into a digital format. Understanding that different documents or sections within each employee file has different retention periods, the best methodology would be to scan each ‘document’ as a separate electronic file. With Storetec’s scanning service, we can custom create file tree structures and apply indexing fields to the electronic documentation. This will allow organisations to achieve a clear, defined structure whereby they can access the documents they require quickly and effectively.
The digitisation of all documents in the future is almost inevitable, but it is vital we emphasise why its so important that HR departments scan current and leaver employee files today.
- One of the main advantages of having a digital archive is the enhanced security of documentation. Business-critical records can be safeguarded behind password authentication and data encryption measures. A digital archive also acts as a backup in case of the worst-case scenario, that the paper copies are accidentally destroyed and lost forever.
- By converting your paper documents into a digital format, you will save valuable office space which could be put to better use. This can be extremely beneficial for businesses located in major cities such as London, Edinburgh or Dublin where office space can be a huge expense for companies.
- Finally, by switching to a more digital way of working, you will vastly reduce the amount of paper used in the office and therefore boost your eco credentials! Being an environmentally friendly and sustainable business in today’s world, is of the utmost importance!
When done right, scanning HR documents can vastly improve productivity and efficiency, enable quicker access to vital records and greatly boost the security of your documentation. Digital access can also assist managing and abiding by compulsory retention periods and GDPR regulations. Depending on your company’s needs, there can be many more benefits.
If your organisation is interested in learning more about Storetec’s HR scanning services, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 614065 or email firstname.lastname@example.org!