Is your business compliant with document retention requirements?

Is your business compliant with document retention requirements?

With retention periods for documents ranging from days to decades, how do you ensure that you are compliant?

Here is a small selection of the records that your business should be keeping – and how long for. For information on how Arena’s services can help, click here.

Customer complaints – 10 years
Sales invoices and credit notes – 6 years
Unsuccessful job applicants – 1 year
Medical schemesreports – permanently
P45, P58, P48, P6, P60 – 6 years
Workmen’s compensation act claims – 1 year
Change of address – 2 years
Petty cash returns – 6 years
Employee receipt of pay slips – 2 years
Overdue account letters – until paid

Storing your paper documents
After viewing the above list – which is just a fraction of the full requirements - we wouldn’t blame you for worrying about storage space, finding documents for a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, disposing of documents when you are legally required to, or simply keeping a complete record of them.

Further to this, the Data Protection Act 1998 states that records should be kept for no longer than necessary. Even if you have lots of space, you cannot just fill it with documents as you may need to access them for a Freedom of Information request, or destroy them at the end of their retention periods.  Managing the different requirements can be very labour intensive.

If you add to this the fact that the FOI act 2000 states that the business must maintain a list of records that have been destroyed, and who authorised their destruction, there is a lot to have covered in your records management policy.

An alternative solution

Space issues can be addressed by scanning paper files and storing them electronically. Provided you have a system that enables compliance with BS10008 (a standard and code of practice which ensures the evidential weight of documents stored electronically), you can destroy the original paper documents and still have a legally admissible record should you need it.

A good electronic document and records management system (EDRMS) will apply retention rules to each part of a classification of documents stored in the system. Documents are stored against the appropriate classification (e.g.; finance, administration, sales, and employee records), the system can then apply rules to dispose of documents or present them for review on a set date.  Those documents with a fixed disposal date can be automatically weeded from the files, keeping you compliant with your policies. This approach dramatically reduces the management time associated with retention and completely eliminates the issues associated with large physical paper archives.

Arena LogoFor further information on how Electronic Document Management can help ensure your business is compliant, contact Arena Group at or 0344 863 8000.

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