Despite what Great Aunt Mitzi (known in the family as "Collect-zilla") tells you, "hanging on to everything just in case" isn't wise. Nor is this professed strategy a legitimate retention-plan solution for your workplace. You have a lot of electronic or paper records to preserve - and to destroy. You can tackle both important goals by implementing and following a retention policy. Need some guidance on where to begin? Let’s get down to the basics.
What is a Document and Destruction (DRD) Policy?
Your Document Retention and Destruction (DRD) Policy defines your entity’s legal and compliance requirements to ensure your records are:
- Accessible with proper identification
- Kept as long as legally and operationally necessary
- Disposed of when they reach the end of their retention period by authorized individuals
Why is a DRD Policy Imperative?
Your entity is required to achieve legal and regulatory compliance, and a disciplined DRD Policy also helps you to:
- Meet regulatory requirements
- Mitigate exposures from data breaches
- Reduce the records you store and save on space
- Reduce costs associated with litigation
- Improve the speed and accuracy of records retrieval
- Facilitate access to valuable information
The suggested retention periods shown are not offered as final authority, but as guidelines and should be reviewed regularly for any legal or business changes.
- Board minutes — Permanent
- Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, Resolutions, Trademarks, Patents — Permanent
- Correspondence on legal, insurance, and important matters — Permanent
- Correspondence-general — 4 years
Finance and Administration Records
- Accounts payable and receivable ledgers — 7 years
- Bank statements, canceled checks, deposits and reconciliations — 7 years
- Chart of accounts — Permanent
- Contracts and agreements — 7 after all obligations end
- Correspondence and Internal Reports — 3 years
- Financial statements (audited and year-end prepared in house) — Permanent
- General ledgers, depreciation schedules, inventory reports — Permanent
- Invoices (from vendors or to customers) — 7 years
- Payroll records — 7 years
- Retirement and pension records — Permanent
- Federal and state income tax returns — Permanent
- IRS exemption determination and related correspondence — Permanent
- Accident reports — Permanent
- Claims (after settlement) — 7 years
- Group disability records — 7 years after end of benefits
- Policies-claims-made/occurrence type — Permanent
- Safety (OSHA) reports — 7 years
- Building and site drawings — Permanent
- Deeds — Permanent
- Leases (expired) — Permanent
- Mortgages and security agreements — 7 years after all obligations end
Employee personnel files — 7 years after termination
Employment applications — 3 years
LOOKING FOR MORE GUIDANCE?
Our experienced business consultants at RINA can help you improve your business and take a major step toward achieving business success. Through our business consulting and planning services we can also help you develop a document and destruction policy tailored to your entity, set goals for your business, and monitor your progress toward achieving them.