Do you know how long you need to keep your records?

By Zoe Pitcher, Archive-Vault

Every business should have a document retention policy, but knowing what documents to keep, how long to store them for, and when they should be destroyed can be a challenge.

Published in Norfolk Director Magazine, Winter/Spring 2020

What documents do I need to keep?

Each business is required to keep various records for different lengths of time and this could mean that you have several document retention schedules to adhere to. HMRC will penalise companies that don’t retain relevant records for the required time. As a rule, tax returns, financial statements and accounting records should be retained for a minimum of 6 years.

A few examples are listed below, but this is not exhaustive, and we highly recommend seeking professional advice as to what to retain and the length of time to suit your business:

  • PAYE records – minimum 3 years
  • VAT records – minimum 6 years
  • Employment contracts and business agreements – minimum 6 years
  • HR records – minimum 3 years

Some of these records can be stored digitally, however, the original documents may need to be stored physically for legal reasons.

Since GDPR was introduced in May 2018, it is even more imperative to retain particular documents. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the GDPR regulators, provide guidance as to what records need to be retained in order to comply with GDPR.

These include:

  • Application and recruitment records – 6 to 12 months
  • Accident records – 3 years
  • Maternity and Paternity records – 3 years
  • Pension benefits – 12 years, from end of payable benefits
  • Redundancy records – 6 years
  • Sickness absence records – 3 months minimum but could be up to 6 years from the end of employment
  • Personnel/ training records – 6 years, from the end of employment

How will you store them?

Whether these documents are stored physically or scanned electronically, they need to be archived in an organised way to enable you access with ease at any time.

Establishing a retention policy allows you to manage your inventory, thereby reducing valuable staff time, legal risks, as well as ensuring compliance. Many businesses choose to partner with a professional records management company like us who understand the importance of storing your documents securely.

Archive-Vault can help businesses organise records, ensuring they are accurately indexed for easy retrieval, and keeping records protected throughout their retention life-cycle until they are due to be destroyed. As a family-run business, we take a reliable, proactive, personable approach to everything we do – from each interaction we have with our clients to the way we securely store every single document, whether in transit or in our secure facility. Our clients value that we’re always at the end of the phone and give a fast and flexible response to queries.

We understand the importance of document management, supporting businesses to not only meet the legal and regulatory obligations, but also securely organise, categorise, store and retrieve information at the right time, for the right people, in the right place. We specialise in making the process of document archiving, simple and seamless.

Do you know how long you need to keep your records? 1

Zoe Pitcher is Director of Archive-Vault, a local family-run business providing secure document storage and records management. Contact Zoe on T: 01603 720722 E: or visit

Share This


WHEN RELEASED WE WILL SEND YOU THE latest digital version.