Document retention – how long should business records be kept?

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Every organisation should have a document retention policy in place. If documents are stored electronically, destruction dates can be automatically assigned to individual document types when they are scanned or saved into a document management system. Users can choose either to have the images deleted or assign a new date if a decision is made to extend the retention period.

Managing paper copies is far more difficult, costly and time consuming and invariably leads to companies not adhering to the regulatory requirements and putting the business at risk.

The question many would ask, however, what are the legal requirements for retaining business records? The answer, unfortunately, is not a simple one as the retention periods vary dependent on the type of paperwork. For example if you take financial records, you should consult the Companies Act 1985 and the VAT Act 1994 which advise a retention period of six years from the end of the current financial year.

There are several reference sources which give information on recommended retention requirements, one of which is ‘The ICSA Guide to Document Retention’. This publication covers the most common types of business documents such as employment records, pension details, meeting minutes, health and safety incidents, contracts and financial paperwork. The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) also provide a wealth of information on the retention of HR related documents.

To find out how a document management system can help you to comply with document retention requirements please call The IPC Group on 08081 45 46 47

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