Guide

Staff records

Set up a staff records system

Staff records systems tend to involve some kind of electronic database backed up by paper documents. Any paper forms you do issue and retain should be standardised where possible.

Whatever type of employee records system you have, it should be:

  • secure
  • reliable
  • accurate
  • consistent
  • adaptable
  • confidential
  • simple to use
  • easy to maintain

Staff records: manual and electronic systems

If you run only a very small business, you may find that manual employee records meet all your needs.

However, if your business is growing and you are therefore employing more people, keeping paper records accurate and up to date can become more difficult. You may find therefore that you come to rely more and more on electronic staff records.

Larger employers may find that they need to set up a centrally administered computerised system - this makes information easier to retrieve but will cost money to set up and to train staff to use.

Staff documents

Despite the widespread use of electronic systems, it is unlikely that any business will maintain all its staff records electronically. You still need to keep, for example, signed paper copies of employment contracts and letters agreeing to a change in terms and conditions.

Such staff documents are particularly important in the event of an employment tribunal claim arising against you. Computerised records may be used but you would be in a stronger position if you can show the tribunal signed documents demonstrating that the claimant has understood or agreed to certain issues relevant to the case.

Standardising staff documents

It's worthwhile designing standard document templates for each procedure, eg for staff appraisals or holiday requests, etc. If the documents are easy to read and logical, you will find it easy to extract data from them.

Ask staff who use the documents to help design the templates. You may also have to train other staff how to use them. HR documents and templates.

Keeping your records systems secure

You must keep personal records secure. In relation to the records system itself, you should therefore:

  • make sure your paper filing system is locked
  • make sure only those staff who need to use the data have access to it
  • protect electronic records with passwords, anti-virus software and firewalls
  • put an audit trail into computerised systems so you can check who has accessed a particular record and when

Read Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) guidance on data security.