Moving forward and keeping HR records managed – Part 5 of 5

Is it possible to keep your records managed?

In this five-part series, we have covered organising your files, tackling the backlog, and looking at risk. We’ve looked at identifying and outsourcing material for scanning, and whether it’s possible to go truly paperless.  Hopefully, your records should all be in order now! But how do you keep them managed?

Going Forward

Moving forward with your HR records is the easiest part. Once you know what records you hold and the path that they follow, it’s just a matter of keeping up with them. You need to remember that sure, you can go paper light today, but what about tomorrow?

The easiest way to manage your HR records is not to let them pile up. That would be a huge mistake and leads to most system downfalls. Have a plan in place to deal with records as they are created, and have a backup plan for dealing with records in the event that the record manager is off sick.  Don’t just leave them to pile up, or hope that someone takes care of them!

Managing digital records when you are constantly being sent physical items can be quite difficult to keep up with.  One solution is to take it in turns to scan documents; whoever opens the mail on a given day could also be responsible for scanning the document directly into the appropriate HR Digital HR file – and then shredding it straight away.  There is no requirement to keep hard copies to maintain/prove legal admissibility unless you change the document upon receipt.

Don’t stamp it

Do not make any changes to a document that you’ve been sent. This means, don’t stamp it!  The scanned copy should be identical to the hard copy. Once you stamp it, it becomes a new document. because you’ve made changes to the original.

Stop ordering folders and files from the stationery catalogue!  Having these on hand means you’ll use them. Force yourself to scan items and keep the process smooth.

Whilst writing this blog, I found out that CIPD has released “Retention of HR records – Introduces the legal issues in the UK around effective retention and organisation of HR records” (on 29/7/20).  I suspect that it wasn’t reviewed by a records management specialist prior to publication.  I have reached out to the organisation and their author but haven’t yet had a get a response.  I’m hopeful that it will receive a thorough review but, in the meantime, I would advise caution if you are using it as a guide. 

If you don’t understand the reason behind your retention, you need to look into it. Your retention schedules should be based on legal requirements as a minimum and then work upwards from there for risk assessment. If someone says they want to keep something permanently, that’s a huge no-no for personal data. Permanently means 1000 years plus. Unless you are operating an archive or place of deposit you cannot decide to keep something permanently.  Remember that your retention schedule is constantly changing; you can choose a nominal retention period but you can then decide to keep the record for a longer period if you have a valid business reason to do so.

People are your weakest link

You can have the best policies and procedures in the world, but as soon as you people are involved, problems will arise.  To manage the people you need to manage the records because if we don’t have good HR records, we are going to have terrible problems later.  Records are your best form of defence in a complicated situation, so keep them close and keep them organised. As soon as you fail to look at if your records, you fail to manage your people.

This concludes our five-part series on managed HR records, if I can be of any assistance with the implementation of HR business processes then please do get in touch.

The above is not legal advice. Please check with a legal representative for your organisation before making any decisions about the destruction of files. Always get approved sign off of your retention schedules before you destroy anything.  With no destruction comes poor compliance with Data Protection.

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Organisations can contact me for reasonably priced assistance with their HR records.

HR/Personnel Records – Moving forward and keeping managed – Part 5 of 5
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