Safeguarding HR Records


SHRM White Paper 

By Philip S. Deming, CPP, CFE, SPHR, Reviewed December 2002


One of the last considerations that most human resource professionals think of is the level of protection for HR records. Some may object to such a general statement and defensively respond by saying, “Our records are in a safe.” A security professional may probe this response by asking, What kind of safe is this? Is this safe a burglary-resistive type or fire-resistive type? Does this safe have an Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.(UL) rating? What environmental protection systems (intrusion alarm system, biometric security system) are present where the safe is located? What types of access control systems do you have for these HR records? Who has access to these HR records?

This article will delineate the various stages of analysis for designing the appropriate safeguard measures for HR records. Simply, we will review what records need to be protected and the risk factors that may affect these types of records. After this discussion, we will identify key elements to assist the human resource professional in examining on-premise and off-premise safeguarding of HR records.

Needs Assessment

A critical stage in the assessment of HR records is to discern which records should be protected. The human resource professional should establish criteria for identifying which records are absolutely critical for the organization and employees. Once this criteria has been established, then the Human Resource Professional should review each record grouping using this criteria.

We have developed criteria to assist the human resource professional in this assessment process. The human resource professional should identify:

The criticality of the HR records in terms of business transaction needs.

The level of access to the HR records (such as general access, restricted access).

Any legal requirements (retention period for certain records such as payroll, life insurance benefits, medical files).

The format of the records (document, electronic media, or other computer media, such as magnetic tape, CD and/or diskette).

In this assessment process, the human resource professional should use these criteria when evaluating each category of records. For this exercise, the HR records have been segregated into five different classifications with sub-groupings of typical records. These classifications and sub-groupings are as follows:

Employee screening and selection records.

– Recruitment documents.
– Resumes and applications.
– Interview records.
– Pre-employment testing.
– Verification and reference checks.

Beginning of the employment relationship.

– Government forms such as INS Form I-9, IRS Form W-4.
– Applications for benefit programs (for example, life and health insurance programs).
– Emergency notification forms.

General employment records.

– Wage and salary information.
– Wage garnishments.
– Performance appraisals.
– Promotions and transfers.
– Formal discipline.
– Job-related illness and medical records.

Employment separation records.

– Exit interviews.
– Separation checklists.
– COBRA notices.
– Correspondence.
– Reference statements.

Other employment records.

– Unemployment claims.
– Worker’s Compensation claims.
– State or EEOC claims.
– Affirmative Action.
– Records for litigation.

Risk Factors

After completing the assessment, the human resource professional will now have an understanding as to the volume of records that have to be protected. Further, the human resource professional will know the format of these records (documents, magnetic computer tapes, flexible computer disks). With this knowledge, the human resource professional will then be able to develop a strategy for identifying risk factors or specific vulnerabilities for these records.

The first order in identifying the risks or specific vulnerabilities that may affect these records is the geographic locale and the social disorder within that given community, such as crime. For example, if the HR records were geographically located in an area that is vulnerable to hurricanes or tornados, then the measures employed for safeguarding the HR records would be different than the measures employed for protecting against criminal threats, such as tampering or destruction. After the risk or specific vulnerabilities have been identified, then the next stage in this analysis would be to:

Determine the probability of risk occurrence.

Identify the degree of risk in terms of impact to the HR records.

The last stage in the risk factor analysis is to determine the cost in terms of either avoiding the risk or reducing risk exposure. For example, if it is determined that the HR records to be protected are at great risk and there is a desire to avoid that risk, then the human resource professional may want to invest capital resources to have a redundant records system located at a separate venue other than its current host. Or, if the human resource professional desires to reduce the risk exposure, he/she may want to invest in a record protection device (a safe, insulated file drawers) designed with specifications to protect against certain types of risks, such as fire or burglary.

On-Premise Storage of HR Records

The environment where the HR records are located within a facility is critical to the protection strategy. That is, if the organizations building has a physical security program (access control, security guards, closed circuit television system, intrusion alarm system), this will serve as the defense perimeter and should mitigate certain types of external threats such as criminal attacks. However, if the human resource professional is not fortunate in having defensive perimeter protection, then the protection strategy should be focused on designing interior protection systems for the HR records. The key elements for evaluation are:

The area in which the HR records are located .

– Access ways and the locking mechanisms (the type, condition and effectiveness in limiting access).
– Windows and openings such as skylights.
– Wall construction. Focus on the fire rating of the construction material for these walls.
– Ceiling design. For example, is the ceiling a drop ceiling with acoustic tiles? Can someone enter the area through the ceiling?
– Lighting system. Is there adequate illumination? Is this area illuminated during non-business hours?

The security measures for the area where the HR records are located.

– Method of access control (keys and key control, access cards, biometric security and persons authorized to have access such as security and cleaning personnel.
– Intrusion alarm system. How is this system designed? Where are the sensors located (pressure mat near the safe)? Who receives the alarm notification (central monitoring station, security guard station)? What are the response instructions (such as notify the human resource professional)?
– Closed circuit television system. How is this system designed? Are cameras placed in overt positions to serve as a deterrent or are the cameras covertly installed for post-incident investigation? Who maintains the system? And, importantly, who maintains and has access to the image recordings?

The record protective devices.

There are two different design types for record protection–one is fire-resistive and the other burglary-resistive. For HR records, it is a generally accepted practice to use a fire-resistive design because the intent is to protect the records from fire. However, if the human resource professional determines through his/her analysis that the greater risk to these records is a criminal threat, then a burglary-resistive design protective device would be more appropriate.

As part of this evaluation, the human resource professional should be aware that quality record protective devices have UL ratings. This means that the protective device has undergone an examination by the Underwriters Laboratories and received a classification. With regard to the classification, there are three types of class ratings for record protective devices: Class 350 for paper, Class 150 for magnetic computer tapes and photographic film and Class 125 for flexible computer disks. After each of the class designations there is a second numerical value to indicate time in hours. For example, a fire-resistive protective container with a UL rating of 350-1 can withstand an external maximum temperature of 1700F for one hour while the internal temperature of the container will not exceed 350F. (For additional information, refer to www.ul.com.)

Prior to purchasing a record protective device, it is important for the human resource professional to know the desired product design classification (fire-resistive), the type of HR records to be stored (documents, magnetic computer tapes, flexible computer disks) and the level of protection against fire in terms of time (one hour, two hours or four hours).

Off-Premise Storage of HR Records

The human resource professional should conduct a similar due diligence for the storage of HR records that will be maintained off-premise, as suggested in the prior section. The elements for this due diligence are as follows:

Ascertain all relevant information concerning the site. The focus should be on the site management, their business practices, financial solvency, property insurance and bond coverage, any insurance and/or bond claims, litigation and clients who use the site.

Obtain pertinent information concerning the site’s locale (the reported crimes including any incidences occurring at the site, social disorder in the community and the police and fire services, such as full-time and paid personnel versus volunteer services).

Visit the site. Focus on the condition of the building, the physical security systems, including fence protection, locking systems, intrusion alarms, access control systems, security guards, exterior lighting and fire protection systems.

Inspect the storage container where the HR records will be placed. Focus on whether these containers have any fire ratings (UL rating) such as 350-4, humidity control system and the types of locking mechanisms securing the storage container.

Inquire as to the human resource practices at the site, particularly for those persons who will have access to the storage area for the HR records. Focus on the screening and background processes for employees and history of employee-related problems.


For the human resource professional who desires to safeguard HR records, the level of sophistication for protection systems depends on the organizational needs and one’s imagination. However, if any human resource professional has ever had the misfortune of having to reconstruct HR records because they were destroyed as a result of a fire, he/she will certainly advise that spending the time and financial capital for safeguard measures before a catastrophe is well worth it. Do not think that just because “our records are in a safe” these records are really safeguarded against all types of risk.

Fact Sheet on Obtaining and Using Employee Medical Information as Part of Emergency Evacuation Procedures

Notice Concerning The Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act Of 2008

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act of 2008 was signed into law on September 25, 2008 and becomes effective January 1, 2009. Because this law makes several significant changes, including changes to the definition of the term “disability,” the EEOC will be evaluating the impact of these changes on this document and other publications. See the list of specific changes to the ADA made by the ADA Amendments Act.


In light of recent events, many employers are developing or re-evaluating emergency procedures to ensure the safe evacuation of all employees. A comprehensive emergency evacuation plan should provide for prompt and effective assistance to individuals whose medical conditions may necessitate it. Many employers have asked how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act affect their ability to achieve this goal.(1) Specifically, employers have asked whether they may request information to help identify individuals who might need assistance because of a medical condition and whether they can share this information with others in the workplace. As the following questions and answers demonstrate, federal disability discrimination laws do not prevent employers from obtaining and appropriately using information necessary for a comprehensive emergency evacuation plan.(2)

  1. May an employer ask employees whether they will require assistance in the event of an evacuation because of a disability or medical condition?

Yes. Some employees may need assistance because of medical conditions that are not visually apparent. Others may have obvious disabilities or medical conditions but may not need assistance. Employers, therefore, are allowed to ask employees to self-identify if they will require assistance because of a disability or medical condition.

  1. How may an employer identify individuals who may require assistance?

There are three ways that an employer may obtain information:

  • After making a job offer, but before employment begins, an employer may ask all individuals whether they will need assistance during an emergency.
  • An employer also may periodically survey all of its current employees to determine whether they will require assistance in an emergency, as long as the employer makes it clear that self-identification is voluntary and explains the purpose for requesting the information.
  • Finally, whether an employer periodically surveys all employees or not, it may ask employees with known disabilities if they will require assistance in the event of an emergency. An employer should not assume, however, that everyone with an obvious disability will need assistance during an evacuation. For example, many individuals who are blind may prefer to walk downstairs unassisted. People with disabilities are generally in the best position to assess their particular needs.

An employer should inform all individuals who are asked about their need for emergency assistance that the information they provide will be kept confidential and shared only with those who have responsibilities under the emergency evacuation plan. (See Question 4 below.)

  1. May an employer specifically ask what type of assistance will be needed?

Yes. An employer may ask individuals who indicate a need for assistance because of a medical condition to describe the type of assistance they think will be needed. One way that this can be done is by giving all employees a memo with an attached form requesting information. The employer also may have a follow-up conversation with an individual when necessary to obtain more detailed information. For example, it would be important for an employer to know whether someone who uses a wheelchair because of mobility limitations is able to walk independently, with or without the use of crutches or a cane, in an emergency situation. It also would be important for an employer to know if an individual will need any special medication, equipment, or device (e.g., an assisted wheelchair carrier strap or a mask because of a respiratory condition) in the event of an emergency. Of course, an employer is entitled only to the information necessary for it to be prepared to provide assistance. This means that, in most instances, it will be unnecessary for an employer to know the details of an individual’s medical condition.

  1. Who is allowed to have information about employees needing assistance in an emergency?

The ADA has provisions that require employers to keep medical information about applicants and employees confidential. These provisions, however, include an exception that allows an employer to share medical information with first aid and safety personnel. This exception would allow an employer to share information about the type of assistance an individual needs in the event of an evacuation with medical professionals, emergency coordinators, floor captains, colleagues who have volunteered to act as “buddies,” building security officers who need to confirm that everyone has been evacuated, and other non-medical personnel who are responsible for ensuring safe evacuation. These individuals are entitled to the information necessary to fulfill their responsibilities under the employer’s emergency evacuation plan.

1.The ADA applies to private employers with fifteen or more employees and to state and local government employers. The Rehabilitation Act applies to most federal employers, and its substantive requirements are the same as those that apply to employers covered by the ADA.

2.The Commission previously has issued more detailed guidance on related issues concerning disability-related inquiries and medical examinations of applicants and employees. See Enforcement Guidance: Preemployment Disability-Related Questions and Medical Examinations Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (October 10, 1995) and Enforcement Guidance: Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (July 27, 2000). These and other guidances are available on this web site.

More information on emergency preparedness for employees with disabilities can be found on the President’s New Freedom Initiative Disability Direct web site http://www.disabilities.gov/ and on the Job Accommodation Network’s web site at http://www.jan.wvu.edu/.

This page was last modified on October 27, 2005.


Employment Agreement

In consideration of my employment by Company XYZ (“Company”), I agree as follows:

  1. Confidential Information.

(a) Definition. “Confidential Information” means the proprietary information and trade secrets of Company and its customers as described below:

(i) Included in “Confidential Information” are the object code and source code to Company’s software, Company’s marketing plans and strategies, Company’s plans for new product development, Company’s technical designs, Company’s data dictionaries, information relating to Company’s financial status, information relating to Company’s human resource system, and any other information that Company marks confidential or by separate memorandum or e-mail informs me is confidential.

(ii) Also included in “Confidential Information” is any information of Company’s customers that I have access to in performing my employment duties for Company.

(iii) Excluded from “Confidential Information” is information that: (x) I can prove was in my possession before I received it from the Company; (y) is in the public domain through no fault of my own; or (z) I learned from a third party not related to Company. Information licensed by Company to customers under a confidentiality restriction is not considered to be in the public domain.

(b) Nondisclosure. I agree that I will not disclose Confidential Information to any third party not employed by Company unless Company authorizes me to do so in writing. I further agree that I will not use Confidential Information for any purpose except to perform my employment duties for Company. These agreements will continue to apply after I am no longer employed by Company.

  1. Return of Company Property. Upon termination of my employment with Company, I will promptly deliver to Company, without copying or summarizing, all material related to Company’s business that is in my possession or under my control including, without limitation, all physical property, keys, documents, lists, electronic information storage media, manuals, letters, notes and reports.
  2. Works Made For Hire. I understand that any work that I create or help create at the request of Company, including software, user manuals, training materials, sales materials, and other written and visual works, are works made for hire in which Company owns the copyright. I may not reproduce or publish these copyrighted works, except in the pursuit of my employment duties.
  3. Inventions. Any inventions, discoveries and ideas (“Technology”) that I develop while performing work assigned to me by Company are owned by Company. I will sign any assignment or other document requested by Company to establish Company’s ownership of the Technology and to permit Company to obtain and retain patents, copyrights, trademarks and other indication of ownership, without charge to Company, but at no expense to me. If there is Technology that I developed before becoming employed by Company and to which I claim ownership, I have listed it here: ______________________________________________.



  1. Prior Agreements. I have provided Company copies of all agreements with previous employers under which I have agreed not to compete or otherwise agreed to limit the use of trade secrets.
  2. Employment. While I am working with the Company, I will devote my full time best efforts to Company’s business and will not engage in any other business or employment without the prior written approval of Company’s President.
  3. Post Employment Restriction.

(a) Definition. “Competitive Products” means a product or service sold by Company or competitive with a product or service sold by Company while I am an employee of Company.

(b) Non-compete Agreement. During the time that I am employed by Company and for a period of two years after my employment with Company terminates, I will not, without the prior written consent of Company:

(i) Design, develop, sell, manufacture, license, distribute or solicit orders for Competitive Products.
(ii) Affiliate as an owner, officer, director, member, manager, employee or agent with any business enterprise that designs, develops, sells, manufactures, distributes, licenses, or solicits orders for a Competitive Product.
(iii) Solicit any customer or employee of Company to discontinue the customer or employee relationship with Company.


  1. Injunctive Relief. I recognize that if I breach this Agreement, Company’s business will suffer irreparable harm and that remedies at law will be inadequate. I agree that in case of any breach or threatened breach of this Agreement, Company is entitled to immediate injunctive relief or a decree of specific performance of this Agreement, in addition to any other remedies provided by law and without being required to prove irreparable harm or special damages.
  2. Entire Agreement; Modifications. This Agreement is my entire agreement with Company with respect to its subject matter and supersedes any prior written or oral understandings pertaining thereto. My obligations under this Agreement may not be changed in whole or in part except by a written agreement signed by the President of Company and me and which specifically refers to this Agreement.
  3. Binding Effect. This Agreement may be assigned by Company in connection with any transfer or sale of its business, and shall inure to the benefit of Company and its successors and assigns. This Agreement is binding upon me, my heirs, personal representatives, successors and assigns.
  4. Severability. I agree that the provisions of this Agreement are fair and reasonable in light of my employment relationship with Company and the nature of Company’s business. Nevertheless, if a court of competent jurisdiction should invalidate any provision of this Agreement; all other provisions shall survive and remain valid and enforceable. If a court of competent jurisdiction should decline to enforce any provision on the ground that it is over broad or unreasonable, that provision shall be narrowed only to the extent required so that it may be enforceable under State law.
  5. Captions. Any captions and headings are purely for the convenience of the reader and shall not be used to interpret or construe this Agreement.
  6. Governing Law. The interpretation of this Agreement and the obligations hereunder are governed by the laws of the State of New Jersey.








Date:______                      ____________________________________
Employee Signature



Date:______                     By:________________________________


Company Records: What to Keep, What to Dump

A records retention schedule ensures that an organization keeps the records it needs for operational, legal, fiscal or historical reasons, and then destroys them when they’re no longer useful. You may base your records retention schedule on your own experience and research of legal mandates or on what other companies are doing.

Whatever your method, use your retention schedule as a guide, not as an executioner. Retain records longer if litigation, a government investigation or an audit seems likely. In the event that a legal action does transpire, immediately cease all disposal activities.

You have to know what you have and how long to keep it—legally and for your own business purposes—before you can establish an efficient records management system. That’s why it’s important to inventory your records and draw up a company retention schedule.

The retention schedule below reflects standard business practices. You must also consider state and local statutes of limitations as well as regulations of government agencies that pertain to your business. State retention statutes vary widely on tax, unemployment and workers’ compensation records, as well as on environmental and other requirements. Check with your state and regional authorities for details.

As an extra safeguard, have your CPA and your attorney review your records retention timetable before putting it into practice.

Timetable Tips

Whether you use the guidelines in this section or conduct your own research to establish a retention schedule, keep the following in mind:

  • Don’t be a “just in case” hoarder; store records only for legal, operational or archival reasons.
  • Retain and destroy documents systematically.
  • Segment records according to a retention timetable.
  • Don’t retain unscheduled temporary materials, such as drafts, reminder notes, work sheets or extra copies.
  • Don’t hang onto documents just for their sentimental or public relations value. Information must earn its keep, like any other asset. A comprehensive record of the past that fosters a “company memory” can be an asset but be sure to minimize your legal liability while doing so.



When No Requirements Exist . . .

What can you do if a law does not state a specific retention period? This is not uncommon. There may not be a stated legal requirement for certain records, or the requirement may not include a specific retention period. You may have done a thorough search to locate certain records requirements but could not find any law addressing your particular documents. Or you may have discovered that certain records must be maintained, but you could not determine for how long. Statutes and regulations often contain a phrase, “The following records shall be maintained . . . ,” but they fail to tell you the retention period. Usually the phrase is interpreted as meaning “permanently” because there’s no permission given for destruction of the records.

How do you deal with this quandary? Under the Uniform Preservation of Private Business Records Act (UPPBRA), whenever a law does not specify a retention period, businesses should keep their records for three years. If you destroy them sooner, you risk subjecting your organization to legal problems. However, only eight states have adopted this act or something equivalent. Courts could certainly require you to hold records long enough to permit the state to monitor compliance with its regulations—a “reasonable” period of time. Based on federal records and the UPPBRA, a three-year retention period should be sufficient.

How long should you keep records if you cannot locate any legal requirements referring to them? Assuming your legal research was thorough, it is best to maintain the records for three years. You must, however, document your search effort and the assumptions you used to set the three-year period. Then, if you missed a legal requirement during your search, you have documentation to show the judge or regulatory agency that your organization had made a good-faith effort to comply with the law.


KEY:  “P” = Permanent. Otherwise, figures represent suggested number of  years for retaining each type of record.

Accounting and Fiscal     Years

Accounts, charged off               7

Accounts payable ledger          7

Accounts receivable                10

Accounts receivable ledger    10

Balance sheets                            5

Bank deposit records                 6

Bank reconcilement papers       8

Bank statements                         8

Bills collectible                           7

Bills of sale of  registered bonds                      3

Bill stubs                                     7

Bonds canceled                         3

Bonds registered                       P

Bonds, sales or transfer         15

Budget work sheets                  3

Building permits                      20

Capital stock bills of sale         P

Capital stock certificates          P

Capital stock ledger                  P

Capital stock transfer records P

Cashbooks                                25

Cash receipts &    disbursement records          10

Cash sales slips                          3

Cash slips                                    3

Charge slips                              10

Check records                             7

Check register                           10

Checks, dividend                      10

Checks, expense                       10

Checks, paid & canceled           9

Checks, payroll                           7

Checks, voucher                         6

Checks, warrants                        P

Correspondence, accounting   5

Correspondence,   credit & collection                   7

Cost account records                 7

Customer ledger                          P

Donations                                    7

Drafts paid                                   8

Earnings register                         3

Entertainment, gifts &  gratuities                                    3

Estimates, projections                7

Expense reports, departmental  7

Expense reports, employees      7

Financial statements, certified   P

Financial statements, periodic   P

Fixed capital records                   P

General cashbook                      25

General journal                             P

General journal supporting  papers                                         P

General ledger                              P

Notes, canceled                         10

Note ledgers                                 P

Payroll register                             7

Petty cash records                       3

Plant ledger                                   P

Profit & loss statements             P

Property asset summary           10

Royalty ledger                              P

Salespeople commission   reports                                         3

Stock ledger                                  P

Tabulating cards &   magnetic tape                              1

Traveling auditor reports          15

Trial balance, accounts   receivable                                     3

Trial balance sheets                      P

Uncollectible accounts                 7

Work papers, rough                      2


Audit reports, internal                      10

Audit reports, public &   government                                        P

Audit work papers, internal               6

Classified documents: control,   inventories, reports                          5

Correspondence, accounting             5

Correspondence, advertising             3

Correspondence, credit & collection 7

Correspondence, engineering &   technical                                             10

Correspondence, general                    3

Correspondence, personal                   6

Correspondence, production              2

Correspondence, purchase                  5

Correspondence, sales & service       1

Correspondence, tax                           15

Correspondence, traffic                        6

Forms control                                         5

Inventory cards                                    3

Inventory, plant records                      P

Organized charts                                   P

Requisitions                                          1

Research reports                                 20

System & procedure records              P

Telegram & cable copies                     3

Telephone records                               P


Activity reports, media schedules     5

Contracts                                      6 yrs. after   termination

Contracts, advertising               6 yrs. after  termination

Correspondence                                 5

Drawings & artwork                           P

Estimates                                              2

House organs                                      P

Market data & surveys                      5

Samples, displays, labels, etc.           P

Tear sheets                                           3


Annual reports                                     P

Authority to issue securities             P

Authorization & appropriations for expenditures                         6 yrs. after   termination

Bonds, surety                                   10

Capital stock certificates                   P

Capital stock ledger                            P

Capital stock transfer records           P

Charters, constitution, bylaws   & amendments                                P

Contracts, employee                     6 yrs. after     termination

Contracts, government                  6 yrs. after  termination

Contracts, labor union                    6 yrs. after    termination

Contracts, vendor                          6 yrs. after termination

Dividend checks                                 10

Dividend register                                  P

Easements                                             P

Election ballots                                   20

Election records, corporate               10

General cashbooks, treasurers’  and auditors’                                    25

Incorporation records & certificates P

Licenses, federal, state, local              P

Permits to do business                         P

Records of mergers, consolidations,     acquisitions, dissolutions &

reorganizations                                 P

Reports to Securities and    Exchange Commission                     P

Securities: documents of issuance,      listing & registration                        P

Stock applications for issuance           P

Stock certificates, canceled                  P

Stock, stock transfer &      stockholders’ records                     P

Stockholder minute books,      resolutions                                        P

Stockholder proxies                             10

Stockholder reports                               P

Voter proxies                                        15


Correspondence                                   2

Policy statements, directives              P

Projects, ideas, notes                           P

Research reports                                 20

Speeches, publications                      10


Accident reports                                 11

Appraisals                                             P

Claims, automobile                             10

Claims, group life & hospital              4

Claims, loss or damage in transit        7

Claims, plant                                          P

Claims, workers’ compensation        10

Expired policy, accident               3 yrs. after   expiration

Expired policy, fidelity                3 yrs. after   expiration

Expired policy, fire                       3 yrs. after expiration

Expired policy, group                  3 yrs. after   expiration

Expired policy, hospital              3 yrs. after  expiration

Expired policy,   inspection certificates            3 yrs. after   expiration

Expired policy, liability                3 yrs. after expiration

Expired policy, life                         3 yrs. after  expiration

Expired policy, marine                   3 yrs. after   expiration

Expired policy, property                3 yrs. after    expiration

Expired policy, surety                    3 yrs. after     expiration

Expired policy, workers’ comp      3 yrs. after   expiration


Affidavits                                   10

Charters                                      P

Claims & litigation of torts &   breach of contract                  P

Copyrights                                 P

Mortgages                                  P

Patents & related data              P

Trademarks                                 P


Authorities for sale of scrap          3

Bills of material                                5

Blueprints                                       30

Correspondence, engineering & technical                         10

Correspondence, production        2

Credit memoranda                           5

Credit ratings & classifications     2

Drafting records                               8

Draftings & tracings, original        P

Inspection records                          5

Inventory records                            7

Invoice copies                                  7

Invoices, received                           7

Job records                                     10

Journals                                             P

Ledgers                                              P

Operating reports                           10

Order register                                    6

Production reports                          6

Quality control reports                    5

Receipts, delivery                             3

Reliability records                             P

Specifications, customer                  P

Stores’ issue records                        3

Time & motion studies                     P

Tool control                                       5

Work orders                                       5


Accident reports, injury claims,   settlements                                        7

Applications, changes,   terminations                                       3

Attendance records                            4

Clock records                                       4

Correspondence                                  6

Daily time reports                                5

Disability & sick benefits records    4

Earnings records                                  P

Employee contracts                             7

Employee service records                   P

Fidelity bonds                                      3

File, individual employee                    3

Garnishments                                        7

Health & safety bulletins                    4

Injury frequency charts                     10

Insurance records: group, employee 6

Medical folders, employee          30 yrs. after termination

Paychecks                                            P

Payroll records, after termination     P

Pension plan                                        P

Pension plan, applications                 P

Pension plan, claims                           P

Pension plan, correspondence         P

Rating cards                                         5

Salary & rate changes                      10

Salespeople auto records                   2

Salespeople expense accounts          4

Salespeople performance records      P

Time cards                                             7

Time tickets                                            7

Time tickets, receipted                          7

Training manual                                     P

Union (collective bargaining) agreements after termination   P

Withholding, exemption certificate    3

Workers’ compensation reports       11

Plant and Property

Appraisals                                           P

Damage reports                                  7

Deeds, titles                                        P

Depreciation schedules                     P

Inventory records                             16

Leases                                                  P

Maintenance & repair, buildings   10

Maintenance & repair, machinery   5

Plans & specifications                       P

Plant account cards, equipment records, historical folders                P

Purchase, lease records                      1

Sales                                                      7

Space allocation records                    2

Taxes                                                     P

Water rights                                         P


Acknowledgments                              3

Bids, awards                                         3

Contracts                                    6 yrs. after termination

Correspondence                                   5

Exception notices                                  6

Orders                                                     7

Purchase orders                                     3

Purchase requisitions                            1

Quotations                                              3

Receiving reports                                   6

Receiving slips                                       4

Vendors’ contracts                                P

Sales and Marketing

Claims (loss or damage)                        5

Complaints                                              5

Contract progress reports         6 yrs. after termination

Contracts, customer                 6 yrs. after termination

Contracts, representatives,  agents, distributors                6 yrs. after termination

Correspondence                                     1

Discount rates                                        5

Guarantees, warrantees                          6

Invoices, copies                                      6

Invoices received                                    7

Mailing & prospect lists                         2

Market research studies & analysis     P

Market surveys                                       5

Orders acknowledgment                         4

Orders filled                                              8

Price lists                                                  P

Shipping notices & reports                    4

Tax-exempt sales                                     5


Agent’s reports                                        P

Annuity or deferred payment plan        P

Correspondence                                     20

Depreciation schedules                          3

Dividend register                                      P

Employee withholding certificates         8

Excise reports                                            5

Exemption status                                       P

Inventory reports                                    16

Real estate                                                15

Sales & use                                                P

Social Security                                           P

Tax bills & statements                              P

Tax returns & working papers               P


Aircraft operating & maintenance         10

Bills of lading                                             3

Delivery reports                                          3

Drive vehicle inspection  reports                 3 months

Employee travel                                         1

Export declarations                                   4

Freight bills                                                5

Freight claims                                            5

Leases                                                        6

Manifests                                                   1

Receiving documents                               5

Routing records                                         1

Shipping instructions                                6

Shipping tickets                                         6

Title papers                                                 P

Tonnage summaries                                   P

Tracer reports                                             P

Vehicle operation & maintenance            4

Source: Records Management Handbook. Courtesy of Fellowes Inc., Bankers Box Storage Products; www.bankersbox.com.


Excerpted from the book Taming the Paper Monster: Records Management, Compliance and File Security (Publication N247A), by the National Institute of Business Management. To order, call (800) 543-2055 or go to www.nibm.net/taming.


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