A Guideline on Employee Record Retention
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A Guideline on Employee Record Retention

We’re celebrating the 1 year GDPR anniversary by talking employee record retention.

Article 5 of the GDPR states that personal data shall be kept no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which it is being processed.

Understandably many HR teams want to know what this means in practice. However, with the exception of a few statutory requirements, there is no defined retention period for most HR records.

Employers must therefore make their own decisions about how long they believe it is necessary to retain data. With regard to GDPR, the key is that the employer can evidence their reasoning and how they came to their decision.

Suggested employee record retention periods

We’ve looked at where there are statutory requirements and considered time limits for potential UK tribunal or civil claims and put together some suggested employee record retention periods.

It’s worth remembering that any documents that might be relevant to a contractual claim should be kept for a minimum of 6 years (or 7 to be on the safe side), in line with the standard time limit for starting legal proceedings as per the UK Limitation Act 1980. Ultimately though, without firm periods given by regulators, it is for employers to make their own decision on retention periods.

We’d recommend you do this in consultation with your DPO or whoever has data protection responsibility in your organisation.

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