If your business has, or will be embarking on a full-scale digitisation project for the HR department, you may be looking to fully understand the legalities of GDPR surrounding employee documents. Especially where retention of data in both paper and digital form is concerned and how document scanning falls under these legal guidelines.
Retention of employee records is an extremely complex and ever evolving subject, one that all HR employees need to keep up to date. Since the implementation of GDPR, organisations should follow best practice and ensure that they have a document retention policy and monitoring programme in place that’s communicated to all team members.
They should also follow both physical and electronic data security methods. The policy should ensure that records are kept as long as they are required and no longer and that records which have surpassed the retention date are destroyed securely. Such programmes may involve training employees, not only about the legal issues involved but also why having organised records benefits the business.
“For GDPR compliance, the first step is knowing what data you actually hold on people. If you don't have a good system with disciplined document practices, then you won’t know if you are compliant” - Jacqui Taylor, Group Chief HR Officer, EDM Group
HR records can be in any number of formats including written, charts, pictorial etc. providing important information about an organisation and how that organisation carries out certain functions. As such, these are business-critical documents containing vital and often times, data that is sensitive to the organisation and individuals within it.
More organisations are looking to moving to digital ways of working and one of the first departments to undergo digital transformation is the HR department - one of the most beneficial areas in an organisation to go paperless. This is especially true in regards to the storing and retention of these records to not only remain compliant with GDPR legal guidelines but to help by providing easier access to important information.
As with any move to a new type of system, some may have their reservations about going paperless. We take a look at some of the pros and cons of a paperless system.
Generally, so long as your organisation ensures security for electronic records and systems, the pros of going paperless highly outweigh the cons.
Employees may be against the idea of a digital transformation within their department and essentially changing the very way they work going forward. Therefore they might be less inclined to adopt it. Nevertheless, there are both pros and cons to keeping hold of paper records.
The actual retention periods aren’t wholly defined by the GDPR, but it does state guidelines for organisations to understand and decide what their retention should be (within reason):
Using these guidelines, organisations need to consider:
These are the vital factors that organisations must consider when converting HR records such as personnel files from hard copy format to an electronic format:
It’s entirely possible for organisations to begin their digital transformation by starting with the HR department and gaining a deeper understanding of compliance requirements of retaining and storing records. Using the GDPR legal guidelines you could update your HR processes by keeping the following in mind:
With all this in mind, it’s also worth considering looking at using an outsourced document scanning vendor to help you realise your paperless dream. An outsourced vendor can help you determine your whole paperless strategy from beginning to end - and even help you set up retention rules for your electronic records based on how your organisation needs to deal with them.
The next step? Find out how to fully replace HR paper records and go paperless. Learn more by following the steps in our useful eBook ‘Buyers Guide to going paperless: 10 crucial questions you should ask your Document Scanning Vendor’.
Tim is Head of Commercial & Retail Sector Sales. Tim’s expertise lies in devising the perfect blend of consultancy, technology and outsourcing that delivers the best value for his customers. As well as founding and managing his own business, Tim’s extensive industry experience, spanning a 15+ year period, includes working with some of the country’s most high profil organisations and taking them on a journey of digital transformation with a major focus on de-risking, enhancing compliance and improving performance.
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