We recently had an interesting query about what records should be kept on someone’s personnel file, in particular things like proof of identity, recruitment and selection documentation, right to work documentation, and criminal history checks.
While all these records provide evidence for the recruitment and selection activity and the employee’s service history, they all serve slightly different purposes, have different requirements, and different retention periods.
Employee service history
Under 1233 in the General Retention and Disposal Schedule (GRDS), an employee’s service history record (their personnel file) needs to be kept for 80 years from date of birth or 7 years after separation, whichever is longer.
That’s a long time to keep this information, so you need to think about what records should be on this file and whether they need to be kept for that long. Not everything about an employee needs to be or should be kept for their lifetime.
It is a slightly shorter retention period for contractors, volunteers and work placements though – their service histories need to be kept for 7 years after business action completed (GRDS 1234), but you still want to think about what records are on this file. FYI – that business action completed might be when they leave or complete the job they were hired to do.
So how long should you keep all the recruitment, selection and start of employment type records?
Recruitment and selection records.
Let’s start at the beginning of the process – with the recruitment and selection records. So things like CVs, applications, cover letters, reference checks and all those things you need to find the best person for the job.
Most of these records are covered in the Recruitment activity under Workforce management in the GRDS.
This activity includes a specific class for Recruitment and selection (2078), which specifies these records should be kept for 7 years after recruitment is finalised – so a lot less than the 80 years for their full file.
This disposal authorisation covers things like interview questions and reports, referee reports, rejected offers, unsuccessful applications etc. It would also cover any proof of identity and right to work documentation, as those records form evidence of their recruitment and why they’re suitable for their role.
However, if you have documentation relating to employment screening for a particular job, like a blue card or security screening, these would be covered under Employment screening assessments (1241). These records need to be kept for the duration of a person’s employment to provide a history of their continued screening to determine suitability of role.
It is important to note that in 2016 the Industrial Relations legislation changed and established general protections to protect workers, including prospective workers, against adverse action. The onus of proof is now on employers to retain records for a sufficient time to justify the decisions made during a recruitment process.
If you want to know more about these changes, and to understand more about these classes in the GRDS, take a look at the GRDS Appraisal Log – this sets out the reasoning and legislation relating to these retention periods.
Criminal history checks
As for criminal history checks, these are covered by 1240 in the GRDS and include consent forms and supporting documentation, criminal history reports, criminal history disclosures, and other documents required to conduct the check.
In accordance with s169 of the Public Service Act 2008, criminal history checks must not be retained after assessment of the individual has been completed. These records must be destroyed as soon as the check has been completed and they cannot be kept or used for any other purpose.
You can also find more detailed information regarding requirements for managing Criminal History Checks in the GRDS Appraisal Log.
You can keep information on whether the check was conducted of course, which the GRDS covers in 1242 – Criminal history check registers. These need to be kept for 7 years after the employee leaves your agency.
So, what about the identity documents provided as part of criminal history checks? Can you keep them if you need them for other purposes?
Depending on your business requirements, you may choose to manage a successful candidate’s identity documents on their personal file under disposal authorisation 1233 Employee service history or 1234 Service history – contractors, volunteers and work placements of the GRDS.
However, if you don’t think the identity documents fit within the scope of a personal file, they could be managed under disposal authorisation 2078 Recruitment and selection. This class is suitable for generally managing records relating to applications, including records relating to successful and unsuccessful candidates.
You can also find more detailed information regarding requirements for managing Criminal History Checks, Recruitment and Selection documentation, and other employment assessment documentation in the GRDS and in the Appraisal Log.
You can also find further useful information on our website about how long to keep records and sentencing.
As usual, if you have any questions please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.