Have you actually thought about proceeding toward the paperless route with your personnel records? What are the advantages and disadvantages ofelectronic over paper? To ensure your compliance rating remains above reproach for your personnel records, are there any benefits to sticking converting from paper to digital?
Let’s take a look: Legal Compliance Through Electronic Document Storage
There is a very long laundry list of what is known as ESI – Electronically stored information. Included in this list are such things as your personnel files, but also email messages, your web site, all word processing files, any written correspondence, both internal memos and external documentation. Additionally, all of your IT backup files, imagery documents and their scanning hardware storage devices, any hand-held communications and storage hardware, your hard drives on all of the computers your firm owns, and a whole bunch more. Even portable storage devices such as thumb drives, CD’s and DVD’s fall under the purview of electronic storage.
Food for thought:
If your firm is sued over your electronic recordkeeping for your personnel record, you will have to produce all documentation pertinent to the suit. Even if you file both paper or electronic, you must retain and inventory all documentation relative to personnel files to better arm yourself should you come under attack. The natural occurrence of paper files is that sometimes things get misfiled, accidently destroyed or damaged. Still more frequently is the fact that paper files don’t always make it into the file at all. That is not to say that electronic filing is more accurate, it is, however, more easily maintained and accessible. Regardless of paper or digital, the policy of storage must be well rehearsed and followed. In this litigious society in which we live, it is a matter of survival to know exactly where your documentation is and how to retrieve it.
- Your office is notified that a government agency is about to investigate your firm.
- A complaint is filed that begins a lawsuit over unjust termination.
- You receive a subpoena to produce records of a long discharged vendor.
- A workplace dispute escalates into a lawyer’s request for investigative information.
- A workplace accident triggers an OSHA investigation or complaint.
- An employee files a complaint or alleges an unfair labor practice, or sexual harassment charges are levied against someone in authority.
It does not matter in the least what your intentions were, it matters how you handle things in advance of any form of litigation. Electronic Personnel Record storage must be handled as well or better than the traditional manual paper method.
Any time a single event of litigation or investigation happens, your requirement must be to find as well as maintain papers and other information and particulars toward the event. The inability to produce the details of the alleged event or activity, along with specific actions that were documented may trigger a more significant problem to resolve. Your current legal professional should work with you to function within a set of pre-determined parameters. Know that you’ll want to inform every person to keep all documents linked with the action. Train all staff members to maintain all documentation related to the action as a matter of legal requirement.
In the end, there are advantages and disadvantages to electronic personnel records, much the same way as there are in the use of a calculator and the manual addition of a large list of numbers. Electronic methods of tasks such as documentation storage appears to be a much better actionable method, but the decision must be addressed, as technology continues to push business onward.