Disposing of Old Records


What is the proper way to dispose of old employment records?


Recycling is good for the environment, but it’s not the best way to dispose of your old employment records. While there are no hard-and-fast rules for “how” to dispose of such documents there are some other examples we can look to for guidance.

Turning to the government, in 2005 the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) created the Disposal Rule to provide direction for the proper disposal of information or documents derived from a consumer report obtained for business use. While the rule applies only to items derived from a consumer report, in many instances employment records contain such information typically gathered via background or credit checks. The Disposal Rule states that businesses must take “reasonable measures” to protect against unauthorized use of such information during and after its disposal. Failure to dispose of such information in a proper manner can result in substantial fines (up to $1,000 plus costs and attorneys fees), however, there are no specific guidelines for HOW to dispose of such items.

Which leads us to the healthcare industry. Known for handling enormous amounts of sensitive health-related information on a daily basis, the healthcare industry takes meticulous care with similarly private and personal information, including measures for it’s destruction. Document disposal guidelines in medical facilities often include:

  • Keeping a schedule of destruction activities – to know when certain documents are eligible for disposal.
  • Maintaining a log of the documents being destroyed.
  • Destroying documents on company grounds (versus sending them off-site for destruction by shredding or incineration).
  • Having two employees responsible for the document destruction to ensure proper disposal and to acknowledge that the destruction took place.
  • Using the same method of destruction each time.

Taking into consideration the number of documents you need to destroy and your budget, the method of destruction is really up to you. There are document companies that will come to your location and under your supervision destroy (usually by shredding) documents and then send them off for recycling.

Recordkeeping can be a daunting task, especially when you are trying to clean out old records and keep handy the pertinent ones. Keeping track of all the documents created in an employment situation is extremely challenging. Strategic HR understands your frustration and has many tried-and-trusted tips on Employment Recordkeeping. Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more about getting your employment records in order.