A Guide to Business Document Retention

As a business, you must really consider the protection of your customer’s data, particularly as data protection is such a hot topic and more consumers are gaining a greater understanding. Your business is sure to use documents on a daily basis, of which many will display sensitive information about the customers that you work with.

With this in mind, you as a business must be aware of your responsibilities relating to the documents that you work with, especially in relation to the retention and destruction of the documents. This is even more important when you consider the fact that there are laws regarding documents and how they are managed. If you don’t comply with the laws, regulations and rules surrounding your businesses documents, there are big penalties and fines that you could face, making it essential for you to be aware of what is expected of you as a business.

What are Retention Policies and Statutory Retention Periods?

Businesses create retention policies as a way to deal with documents and their statutory retention periods, of which relate to when your documents should be destroyed by law. For example, VAT records, contracts, business agreements and pension documents must be kept for six years, in order for your business to comply with the regulations surrounding document retention. A retention policy is developed and implemented following extensive research into retention periods for different document types, based on the industry that you are active within.

Destroying Documents used by your Business

The destruction of your documents must be carefully considered, particularly as you have a responsibility as a business to confidentially destroy the documents, so that the data within the documents cannot be used in any negative way. You must have a comprehensive process in place that enables you to be sure of when the documents must be destroyed, as well as for the actual destruction of the documents themselves. If you have such measures in place, you will be able to fully comply with the rules and regulations, and you can be confident that you have done right by your customers.

When you do come to confidentially destroy certain documents, you will need to ensure that you destroy all copies of the document, whether they are physical or digital copies, in a confidential and comprehensive manner. A confidential document shredding provider is best placed to undertake such action, being instructed to do when you:

No longer require the documents

It is often the case that you will no longer need a document or a set of documents that are stored at your business, and so you should destroy them. As long as the information displayed on the documents aren’t directly related to your clients or certain aspects of your business, you are able to destroy them at any point.

Have created alternative copies of the documents

A business may choose to digitise many of their business documents, and if this is the case at your business, then you may choose to destroy the physical copies. The digitising of business documents is a no brainer for businesses, allowing them to store everything in one place with easy access, whilst saving room and creating space within their office. Once a business has created digital copies of the documents, they can then proceed to destroying of the hardcopies.

If you’re looking to organise important documents in your business, get in touch with our professional team who can give you advice on which services will suit your needs best. You can also request a quote to receive more in-depth information for the service you’re interested in using.