Rules for Retaining Employee Data

Guidance Note: Managing the Retention of Employee Data


This document is a useful overview of the different categories of employee data covered by the Data Protection Act and will help employers to make sure that they are retaining the correct records of employee data and are retaining those records for the correct period of time. Employers should have a specific policy on the retention times for particular types of employee data. 

As a general rule, information should only be retained as long as there is a clear business need for it and it should be securely destroyed (e.g. by shredding) after that period has passed.

This guidance note provides a non-exhaustive list of the type of records that should be retained for different categories of employee data and also provides details of the minimum retention times for keeping each set of employee data.

Information is provided on the following groups of employee data:

  1. Salary Records and Deductions
  2. Incapacity for Work
  3. Working Time
  4. National Minimum Wage
  5. Absence during Pregnancy and Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
  6. Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay
  7. Employee HR Files
  8. Job Applications
  9. Accident Records

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