Employment Record Retention Guidelines: How Should Terminated Employee Files Be Purged?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer as to when you should purge a former employee’s files and documentation since the laws and regulations governing the retention of employee records vary by jurisdiction.

However, as a general rule, it is best to purge terminated employee files after a reasonable time has passed, and there is no longer a need to keep them on file.

For example, in South Dakota, employers must retain employee records for at least three years after the termination date. In California, employers must keep employee records for at least four years after termination. And in New York, employers must keep employee records for at least three years after the termination date.

Additionally, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires all organizations to keep employment records for a year following an employee’s termination date.

When it’s time to purge files for terminated employees, it’s vital to follow best practices for data destruction. This includes shredding all paper documents and wiping all digital files from computers and other devices. By taking these steps, employers can help protect themselves from liability if any sensitive information is leaked.

What Types of Files Should You Purge After Terminating an Employee?

The types of files you should purge after terminating an employee depend on the laws and regulations in your jurisdiction and your company’s policies. However, as a general rule, it is best to purge all files that contain sensitive information, such as:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Bank account numbers
  • Credit card numbers
  • Date of birth
  • Home address

In addition, you should also purge any files that contain performance reviews, disciplinary records, or other information that could be used to harass or discriminate against the terminated employee.

Purge both physical and digital files containing sensitive information about your former employee, scanning drives and clouds alongside your filing cabinets for anything you need to destroy.

Once you’ve identified the types of files that need to be purged, you’ll need to decide how to destroy them. For paper documents, the best method is shredding. This will ensure that the information is completely unreadable and cannot be reconstructed.

For digital files, you’ll need to use a data destruction program that overwrites the files with gibberish so that they cannot be recovered. Once you’ve destroyed the files, it’s important to update your inventory of employee records to keep track of what’s been purged.

Why Should You Use a Professional Service to Purge Employee Files?

While you could purge your own employee files, using a professional service for this task is best. A professional service will have the knowledge and experience to destroy all sensitive information properly. This will help protect your company from liability if any information is leaked.

In addition, a professional service can help you track which files have been purged and when. This is important because it can help you stay compliant with laws and regulations governing the retention of employee records.

At Secure Enterprise Asset Management (SEAM), we offer various services to help employers in North Dakota and South Dakota purge their employee files. We can help you identify which files need to be destroyed and provide you with a certificate of destruction for your records.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you protect your company’s information.

SEAM provides IT recycling and data destruction services including onsite shredding and hard drive wiping to South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.

Schedule a pickup or contact us for more information.