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Do You Have a Records Retention Policy in Place? Here’s Why You Should

It is important for every organization to have a proper records retention policy in place that outlines the retention and destruction period for those records that contain sensitive material. Storing documents away forever or hanging onto files that don’t necessarily require storage, can lead to unnecessary stress, mess, and other organizational issues that can easily be avoided.

Why is this the Case?

To start, if a company faces a legal issue, rummaging through endless piles of documents to locate a certain document when there is a time restriction, is not overly productive, and can quickly lead to frustration since it’s not always a quick and simple task to get done. Furthermore, the fees associated with in-house document storage and maintaining unnecessary files is an expense that simply isn’t worth it. It could actually result in costing you more money down the road not to mention headache and stress. Remember; if a break-in, natural disaster or theft were to occur, your information would be quickly vulnerable to exposure and/or harm.

Saving documents beyond a necessary time frame can also contribute to certain risks just as much as failing to store records for the indicated time frame can; this is exactly why you should have this information ahead of time so you know what you’re working with and what should be stored and shred. Of course, some files require storage for a set duration by law; such as those related to taxes and employees. Depending on your job role and industry, you might also face unique regulations relating to records retention. It’s vital to also be made aware that if your business is ever involved in a legal case, you are responsible by law to safely store records that may be of use to the specific problem at hand.

What Does a Record Retention Policy Involve?

To implement an effective and secure records retention policy, it is in your best interest to categorize all business documents into 3 separate sections:

The “Must Store” Records

These files refer to ones you are legally mandated to store, and it also includes documents requiring storage that apply specifically to your line of business. You should also be sure to include records that relate directly to a possible legal dispute. For security and compliance purposes, these should be stored for the length of time required by law or regulation, or until they are no longer applicable to the legal matter.

The “Want to Store” Records

Anything that you feel is valuable to your business or staff such as administrative or marketing documentation, falls under this category. These documents do not need to be stored because of legal obligations, but rather out of a convenience and general desire to keep them. Your records retention policy should preferably provide the time period for which these documents should be retained, or at least periodically review to determine relevance and whether they continue to be valuable to your business.

The “Securely Shred” Records

The last group entails anything not previously mentioned above. It is important that you are proactive in securely shredding any hard copy documents and electronic files that have reached the end of their lifecycle or are not being used for any business purpose; storing these can pose red flags for your security, as information can easily be lost or stolen, which leaves you responsible should there be a fraudulent crime that occurs as a result.

A-1 Shredding offers document shredding services and electronic media destruction that will help your business remain in compliance with critical privacy legislation, while you remain protected from the threats of information theft and fraud. Our team of specialists are pleased to work with you in developing your records retention policy if you don’t currently have one.

June 27, 2019