It’s that time of year again.
The end of each financial year is when many of us finally get around to sorting out the clutter on our desks, in our filing cabinets and on our computer storage facilities – computer hard drives, CDs, tape backup drives and the like. Then we classify old records, and archive, delete or shred them as appropriate.
Record retention policy
In the long run, it is more efficient, even critical, to develop a record retention policy, and to document your compliance with it. Then you know beforehand what to do and what you have done. You will be able to retrieve a record for yourself or others more easily. In addition, if you have deleted a record in accordance with a documented, reasonable and sensible policy, then a court or regulatory compliance body requesting that record will be less suspicious about your motives for doing so.
For most records, age is the principal determinant of their retention status. It is critical to know how long each record should be kept. There are differing legislatively mandated times for different record types. Some examples are listed below.
|As of 1 July 2015, destroy records up to*|
|Company tax records – invoices, receipts, vehicle log books etc||5||30 June 2010|
|Tax – invoices, receipts, vehicle log books etc||5||30 June 2010|
|Patient over 18 years old medical records||7||For seven years from the last occasion on which a health service was provided to the individual by the health service provider.|
|Patient less than 18 years old at the date of last entry in the record||
Until patient is 25 years old
|If the patient was less than 18 years old at the date of last entry in the record, the record must be kept until the patient is or would have been 25 years old.|
|Standard patents||20||You may wish to keep these as historical documents.|
|Workers Compensation injury records||Until date of death||The patient can make a claim up till their date of death.|
Such a policy should also specify when archiving or deletion of records is to occur. Choose a slow month for your business and turn into a satisfyingly productive one.
It is also important to recognise that, while complying with regulations, the record retention policy should be realistically achievable – we all know what happens to most New Year’s resolutions to “lose 10kg by June” .
Try to make the process a workable one. Provide calendar reminders for those with tasks in this area. Make it a quarterly (or at least annual) staff meeting agenda item. As an incentive, have a staff lunch on completion of a successful clean out.
Organising record destruction
Once you have collected your paper records to be destroyed, or perhaps the media on which they are stored, Confidential Shredding Co provides secure, compliant, efficient and hassle-free destruction of all forms of user information:
• Paper records
• Hard disk storage and CDs
• X-rays and other electronic media
We pick up your items slated for destruction, and issue you a Certificate of Destruction upon completion, providing you with auditable evidence of compliance.
There are federally mandated standards for the proper destruction or de-identification of personal information that may be found here.
* Please note that information in the above table is indicative only. You should consult the regulations provided by the relevant authorities.