04 Jun Document Retention Policy
Many years ago it was predicted that offices would become paperless. However that has never really happened and it will be a long time before that day comes. After all we all like to hold physical items, its in our nature we are a tactile race.
So what does this mean for the average office in New York. Every business in New York must have a small mountain of paper clogging up their offices. So what do you do with the paper that you no longer need ? It’s simple you shred what has sensitive information on the documents. But what do you shred and when do you shred it.
The Plan Of the Document Retention Policy
The first step is to create a plan around the document retention policy. Then you need to make someone responsible and accountable. If there is no accountability, then no consequences the document retention policy will just go out the window.
The larger the business the more people need to be involved in the document policy. It’s not just to keep a tidy office and keeping distressed there are federal laws that you could be breaking.
The Laws On Document Retention & Shredding
Depending on your field of business you may actually be subject to federal or state legislation requiring some degree of specific document and file organization within your business.
Examples of legislation with such provisions include FACTA and HIPAA. These are two pieces of legislation which affect very different businesses. However both have provisions outlining a need for systems of document organization (typically for reasons of confidentiality).
The First Stages Of The Document Retention Policy
- Appoint a committee to manage the plan.
- This is the ideal approach when compared to having a single person manage the plan, as it reduces the likelihood of unethical practices from occurring.
- Review the laws.
- Make sure you are covering any bases you are obligated to.
- Set the rules.
- One tip that might help employees is to implement collection bins throughout the office so that documents to-be-destroyed don’t get confused with other important documents. Locked bins also prevent prying eyes from peeking at or obtaining any information found in these documents.
- Communicate the policy.
- All of these tips are only useful if every employee in the firm is aware of the policy, its rules and procedures.
- Regular Meetings on the Policy
- Review the document retention policy and speak with the rest of the employees. Does it effect their productivity for the better or worse.
- Is the Policy Working
- If its your first time implanting a document retention policy don’t be afraid to change and improve it. Everything evolves over time or becomes extinct.
New York, Long Island & Manhattan Document Laws
are all covered under federal legislations containing provisions regarding the retention of documents. One such body that implements and enforces such rules is the IRS.
In fact, when it comes to tax returns and documents the IRS has a very strict outline of what you should be keeping, and under what circumstances. Below is a list of guidelines direct from the official website of the IRS:
Document Retention Timescales
- Keep records for 3 years if situations (4), (5), and (6) below do not apply to you.
- Always keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return.
- Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction.
- Always keep records for 6 years if you do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return.
- Keep records forever if you do not file a return.
- Always keep records forever if you file a fraudulent return.
- Keep employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.
These are guidelines for implementing your document retention policy. Of course when the time comes that you don’t legally need to keep that document what do you do with it. Thats where American Security Shredding comes in.
Destruction Retention Policy Guidelines
- Should this document be kept or destroyed
- This depends on whether the document contains information which is still relevant, or required to be kept on hand by law. See the above IRS guidelines as an example for tax returns and filings.
- If this document should be kept, how long should it be kept for
- This again depends on internal processes that your business uses, or on federal legislation for certain pieces of documents. Otherwise your business should assess its needs and uses for different documents and make this decision at your discretion.
- Does it contain information that could be harmful to the organization or an employee if compromised?
- This question is really what should determine how the document should be disposed of. If the suspected answer is yes, than document destruction should be the course of action all the time.
What Documents You Should Be Shredding Business
- Legal Records
- Bank Reports
- Payroll Information
- Marketing Research
- Development Plans
- Computer Reports
- Meeting Minutes
- Brokerage Reports
- Classified Data
- Profit/Loss Reports
- Tax Records
- Client Contact Lists
- Insurance Reports
- Organistion Charts
- Loan Statements
- Employee Records
What Documents You Should Be Shredding Personal
- Pay Stubs
- ATM Receipts
- Bank Statements
- Credit Card Statements
- Email Address
- Junk Mail
- Old Mail
- Canceled and Void Checks
- Cover Letters
- Driving Licence Numbers
- Health Card Numbers
Archiving your documents through proper record storage services, will improve your employee and company efficiency significantly. Sometimes it can be difficult to store and locate files in-house.
Hiring a professional to handle your record storage, improves your document management plan, and most importantly saves you hassle, space, and consequently money.
Quick and Easy Access
Index all documents for organization purposes and for quick retrieval. Be sure to store all documents or electronic files in a secure area that is 100% secure, or if it’s electronic data, ensure you use password protection.
Access should be monitored and restricted to staff members who require it to perform their job duties. Storing information that’s no longer of value will lead to additional security risks like data breach. Furthermore, storing these records in-house will use up considerable space and cost you down the road.
Tax Records and Storage
When it comes to data retention, there are two parts to think about; the duration in which documents will be considered relevant to the company, and the time in which records should be stored securely due to industry and government regulations.
For instance, in the U.S. legally, payroll tax returns must be stored for 4 years. Every business regardless of its industry and size should be educated and updated in regards to the laws that apply specifically to their profession. This information will help tremendously in protecting you from legal risks
Sensitive information includes any form of documentation; information found in both paper and electronic data. It’s important that all confidential information stored electronically, including online communication and emails, is kept secure at all times.
As mentioned on wired.com, the Panama Papers leak exposed more than 4.8 million emails (as well as 3 million database files and 2.1 million PDF’s). If your emails aren’t being used as a point of reference and don’t contain critical business information, they should be deleted within an appropriate time frame, for security purposes.
Disaster Recovery Plan
Did you know that a large volume of businesses fails to recover from a natural disaster. Especially without a disaster recovery plan in place. Sure you might think that it’ll never happen to your business. Ultimately it’s safer to be prepared for the unknown.
Rather than risk losing valuable business information. Disasters can strike anywhere, anytime, often without warning so protecting your New York Business with a backup plan should be a top consideration.
Mental Health in Your Workplace
Not only does a document retention policy keep you within the law it has other benefits. Your employees mental health is your responsibility as an employer. A decluttered workspace is more organised and productivity is increased.
Furthermore with a structured document retention policy in place it keeps the employees safe. No longer will they be thinking what to do with a document, am I breaking the law ! With clear defined rules within the policy out keeps the employees and the business within the law.
In House Shredding Vs Professional Shredders
Now you have Gott your document retention policy in place how do you go about destroying those documents. Will it be in house or all you hire a company to do the shredding for you.
In House Shredding
Now if you decide to do the shredding /document destruction in house there is a few things to consider.
- What Type Of Shredder
- What budget will you allocate to the office shredder
- Where will you put the office shredder
- What will you do with the paper once it has been shred
- Has it been shred fine enough not to be put back together again
- Will each individual be responsible for shredding their own documents
- Or will one individual be responsible for all the shredding
- How much will it cost whilst the employees are just standing there feeding paper into the shredding machine.
In House Shredding Is It Cost Effective
In-house shredding can be costly as well. To start, you should consider the cost the shredder itself, and in many circumstances companies need to purchase more than one shredder to meet the document disposal needs of their hectic schedule and paper volume. Due to the fact that these devices aren’t made for large amounts of paper, they do require maintenance to operate effectively, which if ignored can cause more costs for you.
Lastly, office shredders require operation which means employees must be taken from their regular jobs to perform the paper shredding. You must also rid of any staples, paper clips, and rubber bands, as they will cause the shredder to jam. It can take a significant amount of time because documents need to be separated into small, easily-shredded piles, and when the shredding container reaches capacity it than needs to be emptied.
Each step of the process takes time and attention which results in more employee time. The reality is that your employees should be focusing on their job roles as they were hired to perform. A better solution? Outsourcing your shredding removes the cost and depreciation of your shred machines, and saves your staff time.
In House Shredding The Real Costs
We have done a much more in-depth cost analysts of your employees doing the shredding. You will be surprised at how much money it does. It also deals with the security levels of office shredders.
Profesional Document Shredding Company
There is a few questions that you need to ask yourself before you hire a professional shredding company. Are they NAID AAA Certified. Did you know of the 51 shredding companies only 15 are actually AAA certified.
Do you have to take the documents to the document destruction company. Will they come to you to pick up your documents for destruction. Do they provide document security containers.
American Security Shredding
At American Shredding we can supply you with secure on site lockable containers. We can then come and collect these and take them back to our state of the art plant and destroy them. The other option is we destroy them right in front of your office door. (circumstances permitting the practicality)
Once the documents have been destroyed you will receive a document of destruction
American Security Shredding is ready to provide reliable and secure services throughout New York, Long Island and Manhattan. Our team is geared with the knowledge to keep your business in compliance with important legislations such as HIPAA, HITECH, FACTAS, GLB, Red Flag Rulesand more. If your business is in need of a reliable shredding provider, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Call 1-800-882-1979