How Long Do Employers Keep Employee Records After Termination? 1 Hard Question
When an employment relationship ceases for whatever reason, employers still have a responsibility to keep employee personnel files in a secure location. Depending on the country where you are employed, the length of time employee records must be kept differs. For this article, we will focus on the Singaporean context and what it entails. Yes, even employee records still fall within an individual’s personal data. As such, these are duly protected under the PDPA Act 2012 of Singapore.
But before we get there, let’s have a quick definition of terms and understand what specific data is enclosed within ’employment records’?
According to the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore, all employers must maintain a detailed employment records of employees covered by the Employment Act. This rule was enacted on 1 April 2016.
Personal data should not be kept for longer than is necessary, and should be removed as soon as it is reasonable to assume that the purpose for which that personal data was collected is no longer being served by retention of the personal data, and retention is no longer necessary for legal or business purposes.Singapore data protection guidance and legislation
Two Categories Under Employment Records
Before we even start asking, ‘how long do employers keep employee records after termination’, let’s look at what constitutes ’employment records’. In Singapore, there are two categories included under employment records:
- Employee records – must include the address, NRIC number (or work pass number and expiry date for non-citizens), date of birth, gender, date of starting employment, date of leaving employment, working hours (including duration of meals and tea breaks), and dates and other details of public holidays and leave taken.
- Salary records – must include the full name of the employer, full name of the employee, date of payment (or dates, if the pay slips consolidate multiple payments), basic salary, start and end date of salary period, allowances paid for salary period, any other additional payment for each salary period (such as bonuses, rest day pay, and public holiday pay), deductions made for each salary period, overtime hours worked, overtime pay, start and end date of overtime payment period (if different from salary period), and net salary paid in total.
Information related to employee health or medical benefits and related documents are not included in this context of employee records.
The format of these records may include soft or hard copy, including handwritten records.
Why it’s Important to Ask the Question: How Long Do Employers Keep Employee Records After Termination?
For one, because employee records are considered personal data and are thus covered under the PDPA, terminated employees have the right to know the retention status of these records.
Organisations that keep employee records far longer than what has been mandated by law may land in hot water.
For another, in the event of claims or issues to be raised, these records will serve to protect both the employer and the employee. Again, the crux of the conversation is: destroying the records too soon will be detrimental to the employer, but hanging on to the records longer than necessary may mean possible legal liability in the future.
Finally, Let’s Address the Question
So, how long do employers keep employee records after termination? If you ask the Ministry of Manpower, the terminated employee’s records for the last two years must only be kept for one year after the employee leaves his or her employment.
Hence, if you are the terminated employee, you only have that much window to raise any possible issues or claims you have against your former employer. As for the employer, keeping employee records for a reasonable period of time post-termination can help them contradict any claims made by a former employee. It’s a win-win situation for both.
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