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What you need to know about employee record retention

16th Mar 2018
Employment Law, Human Resources

With GDPR looming, we are often asked “how long do you have to keep employee records for?” If you are looking to save space, reduce cost, minimise the risk of losing or damaging vital information and are moving towards sustainable ‘green’ practices such as going paperless, the following information will help you get your house in order.

This information is to be used as a guideline for retention times, in the absence of a specific business case supporting a longer period.

Record Retention Table

Record Retention Table
ItemRetention Duration
Application forms and interview notes (for unsuccessful candidates)6 months to 1 year
Application formDuration of employment
References received1 year
Payroll and tax information6 years
National Minimum Wage compliance records3 years
Sickness records6 years
Annual leave records2 years
Unpaid leave/special leave records3 years
Statutory Maternity Pay related documents e.g. records, calculations, medical evidence etc3 years after the end of the tax year the
maternity leave ends
Parental leave5 years from birth/adoption or 18 years if the child is disabled
Annual appraisal/assessment records5 years
Records relating to promotion, transfer, training, disciplinary action6 years from end of employment
Senior managers recordsPermanently for historical purposes
Redundancy documentation6 years
References given/information to enable reference to be provided5 years from reference/end of employment
Summary of record of service e.g. name, position held, dates of employment10 years from end of employment
Records relating to accident or injury at work3 years from the date of last entry (or if the accident involves a child or young adult, until that individual reaches 21 years old)
Proof of eligibility to work in the UK3 years from end of employment
Working time records2 years
Spent disciplinary and grievance correspondence2 years (from time at which warning is spent, documentation to be held separate to file)


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Remember, the Data Protection Act 1998  requires you to take steps to keep personal data secure, encrypt sensitive data with a password and take physical precautions to keep data safe.  Store it, access it and destroy it safely, securely and confidentially.

If you would like advice or support on ensuring you are recording the right information in the right way, feel free to give us a no obligation call.  We provide flexible, commercial ad-hoc HR support  and advice to businesses of all shapes and sizes.  We would love to help you protect your business and reduce your costs too.

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