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July 22, 2013
Employee records: How effective is your records retention program?

Employers are required by a myriad of federal and state laws to retain employee records, such as wage and hour information, I-9 forms, and records related to job applications, for specific periods of time. Yet a recent survey found that there is room for improvement in managing records programs.

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Federal laws with recordkeeping requirements include the Fair Labor Standards Act, Immigration Reform and Control Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and COBRA—to name a few.

Only 15 percent of surveyed executives indicated that their organization has implemented a risk assessment to determine appropriate retention periods for their records, according to Canon Business Process Services’ survey, “On the Record: Is Your Organization’s Records Management Program Providing High Value or High Risk?”

A well-managed records program is important for several reasons, including effective governance, risk management, litigation preparedness, reputation protection, and strategic decision making, reports Canon Business Process Services (www.cbps.canon.com).

The survey looks at which industry-accepted best practices and principles companies are incorporating into their records management programs and identifies opportunities for improvement. For example, 38 percent of respondents said their organization has not conducted a records needs assessment to identify ways to close gaps between their program’s current state and desired future state, and 14 percent don’t know if their organization has done so.

Why haven’t more companies conducted a records needs assessment? Canon Business Process Services reports that many companies do not have the time or resources to address problems that could be uncovered in an assessment, so they avoid conducting one altogether.

The company says that conducting risk and records needs assessments and implementing other best practices can help an organization improve the overall effectiveness of its records program. Those best practices include the following:

  • Managing ongoing program development;
  • Compliance monitoring; and
  • Compliance-related issue resolution.

“Whatever records management strategy an organization adopts, the goals should be clear,” said Elizabeth Halaki, chief marketing officer of Canon Business Process Services. “Our current and previous surveys indicate that companies want their records programs to help mitigate compliance risk, leverage proven technology, and better control their information assets.”

Tip: Employers that implement best practices in records management increase the effectiveness of their program and lower risks associated with noncompliance.


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