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DATA PROTECTION UNIT OPERATIONS & PROGRAMME IMPLEMENTATION DIRECTORATE OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER VALLETTA

Retention Policy for HR Documents

Scope This policy establishes retention periods in relation to HR personal data and sets out the guidelines and procedures to be adopted by government ministries and departments to implement this policy. These guidelines have been drawn up, and are being issued, in conjunction with the Public Administration Human Resource Office (PAHRO).

Background Information One of the basic principles of the Data Protection Act Cap 440 (DPA) is that personal data cannot be kept longer than is necessary, having regard to the purposes for which data are processed. It has been an established practice that HR data in ministries and government departments are kept for an indefinite period. Public officers are also bound by the National Archives Act (NAA), which requires that all public documents of endurance value, including HR related data, be retained for archives purposes. In the exercise of reviewing corporate HR procedures, the issue of retention periods to be applied arose quite often during the discussions. It was therefore quite evident that it was necessary to develop a retention policy to give clear guidelines on the retention of HR-related data, to strike a balance between the requirements of the DPA and the NAA. Discussions were also held with the National Archivist, so as to agree on retention periods for HR data as well as on the implementation method to be applied.

Manual Records The retention schedule below provides guidance on retention periods for different categories of recruitment and other personnel management records. This list includes the working papers most commonly used in government departments and is not meant to be exhaustive. Other forms may be included in the future as more forms and procedures are identified if the need arises. The schedule refers to the original paper documents and does not obviate the need to retain electronic records required for the purposes of effective human resources management. Personal files related to public officers are opened at PAHRO as well as line ministries and departments upon recruitment. Whenever a public officer is transferred to another ministry/ department, the departmental personal file is sent also to the new ministry/department. It is apparent that the retention requirements of PAHRO, due to the corporate role within the Public Service, differ from those of line ministries and departments. This retention policy has therefore been developed to cater for both sets of requirements. In this regard, it has been agreed that the following different retention periods be adopted for personal files: 1) In the case of data held by PAHRO – Ten (10) years from age of retirement of the employee concerned (varying between ages sixty (60) and sixty-five (65)). 2) In the case of departmental records in line ministries and departments – Ten (10) years from date of termination of employment. It is to be assumed that those records listed in the schedule below and having a retention period as indicated in the preceding paragraph, are all kept in personal files of the employee in question, either at PAHRO or line ministries and departments.

Retention Policy for HR Documents

April 2012


Data Protection Unit Operations & Programme Implementation Directorate, OPM

Electronic Records In view that both the DPA and the NAA apply equally to manual and electronic records, the need is felt to draw the attention of ministries and departments to the obligation to establish retention periods to cover HR records on electronic systems as well. As a general guideline, it is being recommended that the same retention periods be extended also to all electronic records related to employees. HR electronic records are held in the HR Management Information System (HRIMS) which is managed by PAHRO. Therefore the retention periods applicable to data held by PAHRO will apply to HRIMS records. In cases where line ministries and departments also keep electronic records of their employees in other forms of databases or spreadsheets, the line ministry and department concerned is responsible to delete the data following the expiry of the retention periods applicable to them, provided that there is no pending issue related to any particular employee. However, it is pertinent to note that prior to deleting personal data from the HR system, the following basic details of public officers are to be maintained for historic purposes in accordance with article 8 of the DPA: Employee Historic Record to be retained in HR System 1.

Identity Card number

2.

National Insurance number

3.

Name and Surname

4.

Date of Birth

5.

First Position, salary scale, salary point, the actual salary (if the grade or position is not tied to a salary scale), any allowances (if applicable), date of first appointment, and ministry/department where assigned

6

Other Positions held, indicating salary scale, salary point, the actual salary (if the grade or position is not tied to a salary scale), any allowances (if applicable), date of appointment, and ministry/department where assigned

7

Date of Termination Termination Reason

8

(resignation; resignation in the course of disciplinary procedures; retirement; boarded out; dismissal; definite contract expiry; death while in service; took up permanent employment with Public Sector)

Salary details with regard to different positions held by the officer concerned may be imported from the Payroll System where required to build the historic record. It should also be noted that removing the identification details in any record, rendering it anonymous, would be deemed as physically deleted for the purposes of the DPA, and could be further processed for statistical purposes.

Exclusions Any form of record is to be kept longer than the period stipulated hereunder if: a) Such record has been identified to be of archival value by the National Archivist. This record is to be kept in accordance with the NAA. As it is considered more likely that public officers in headship positions would have records that are of significant historic value, it is required that all

Retention Policy for HR Documents

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Data Protection Unit Operations & Programme Implementation Directorate, OPM

personal files related to such officers be kept for an indefinite period, and sent to the National Archives at a stipulated time to be agreed upon between the ministry/department concerned and the National Archives. For the purposes of this policy, the term “public officers in headship positions” means all those officers in salary scale 4 and above. b) There are pending issues in relation to the employee in question and the personal file is still considered to be active. In such instances, the file will be destroyed after all pending issues have been resolved and all necessary historic records have been updated as necessary.

Retention Schedule The following is a retention schedule listing the forms and the relative retention period to be applied: CATEGORY

RETENTION PERIOD

Recruitment and Career Progression Application Form for the filling of posts in the Public Service

1) In the case of appointed persons: a) PAHRO – Ten (10) years from age of retirement; b) Line ministries and departments – Ten (10) years from date of termination of employment 2) All others, one (1) year subsequent to the validity period of the relevant call for applications (unless, in the interim, a complaint connected with a particular call for applications has been filed)

Application Forms for the filling of positions co-financed from EU funds

1) In the case of appointed persons: a) PAHRO – Ten (10) years from age of retirement; b) Line ministries and departments – Ten (10) years from date of termination of employment 2) All others, to be retained for the period stipulated in the regulations governing the relative EU programme/s

Application Forms for the filling of Headship Positions

One (1) year from the filling of post (unless, in the interim, a complaint connected with a particular call for applications has been filed)

Application Form for the filling of Vacant Positions of Assistant Director

One (1) year from the filling of post (unless, in the interim, a complaint connected with a particular call for applications has been filed)

Applications for External Training

One (1) year from conclusion of selection process

Declaration on Employment/ Appointment a) PAHRO – Ten (10) years from age of retirement; b) Line ministries and departments – Ten (10) years from date of termination of employment Confirmation of Appointments (PSMC 1.2.8.4)

a) PAHRO – Ten (10) years from age of retirement; b) Line ministries and departments – Ten (10) years from date of termination of employment

Personal Record Sheet (GP46)

a) PAHRO – Ten (10) years from age of retirement; b) Line ministries and departments – Ten (10) years from date of termination of employment

Retention Policy for HR Documents

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Data Protection Unit Operations & Programme Implementation Directorate, OPM

Service & Leave Record Form (GP47)

For the same period as that kept for the relevant job application forms

Annual Performance Reports (including PMPs)

Ten (10) years

Progression Reports

a) PAHRO – Ten (10) years from age of retirement; b) Line ministries and departments – Ten (10) years from date of termination of employment

General Employee Records Approval to perform private work

a) PAHRO – Ten (10) years from age of retirement; b) Line ministries and departments – Ten (10) years from date of termination of employment

Direct deposit of salary form

Current

Pension Form

a) PAHRO – Ten (10) years from age of retirement; b) Line ministries and departments – Ten (10) years from date of termination of employment

Discipline Admonishments

destroyed by supervisor after six months; no record retained

Written warnings (PSC Regulation 19)

attached to the Personal Record Sheet (PRS) (GP 46) and an appropriate note made in pencil on the PRS; after one (1) year, all references to such warning should be deleted.

Minor Disciplinary Cases Serious Disciplinary Cases

a) after conclusion of case:

- if found guilty, documents retained for ten (10) years from termination of employment and record shown permanently in Personal Record Sheet (GP 46) - if found not guilty, documents retained for two (2) months from conclusion of case and no record kept thereafter b) if case is inconclusive and the employee has terminated employment, documents are retained until the employee concerned reaches retirement age.

Absence Management Attendance sheets

Two (2) years

Vacation Leave application forms

Two (2) years

Vacation Leave Cards (GP 44)

Four (4) years

Health and Medical records Sick leave certificates (copies held at employing department)

One (1) year from issue of certificate

Request for the appointment of a Medical a) PAHRO – Ten (10) years from age of retirement; Board (GP 49) b) Line ministries and departments – Ten (10) years from date of termination of employment Report by a Medical Board (This has been replaced by a communication from the department dealing with medical

Retention Policy for HR Documents

a) PAHRO – Ten (10) years from age of retirement; a) Line ministries and departments – Ten (10) years from date of termination of employment

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April 2012


Data Protection Unit Operations & Programme Implementation Directorate, OPM

health, giving only the result of the board declaring whether the employee is fit or unfit for work.) Sick Leave Card

Ten (10) years from date of termination of employment

Implementation The implementation of the retention schedule mentioned above is to be approached on three prongs as follows: a) Personal and Disciplinary Files; b) Forms which are used as from the date of issue of these policy guidelines termed as “New Forms”; c) Forms which have been collected prior to the issue of these guidelines termed as “Old Forms”. As this process is an HR management function, HR Managers are to co-ordinate any disposal of personal files and forms identified in the retention schedule, in line with established guidelines. HR Managers or public officers performing such a function in government departments are considered to be the contact persons where it is required that the National Archivist be consulted on the disposal of personal files. PAHRO are also to nominate a contact person who will need to co-ordinate with the National Archives to dispose of PAHRO personal files. On the other hand, the National Archivist is to nominate an officer representing the National Archives to co-ordinate with the HR Managers and PAHRO in this exercise. a) Personal and Disciplinary Files The National Archives acknowledge that there is a probability that information regarding public officers who at any time have occupied a headship position may be of historic value and needs to be archived. Therefore all such personal files of public officers in headship positions are not to be disposed of unless there is specific authorisation by the National Archivist or his representative. Arrangements are to be made with the National Archives for the transfer of such files following the normal archives procedure. As regards the personal files of all other government employees, these are to be disposed of after the expiration of the retention period indicated for PAHRO and line ministries and departments respectively. An annual exercise is to be conducted to identify employees whose retention period would have expired during the previous year. The HR Manager should generate this list of employees from the HRIMS. The personal files related to these employees are brought up for disposal. When there are files for disposal, the National Archives are to be informed four months in advance, to provide ample time for Inspector of Records from the National Archives to carry out sampling exercises by randomly selecting files to be archived if they so deem it fit. Files not selected by the National Archives are to be destroyed once the four-month notice period to the National Archives has elapsed. If the National Archives’ Inspector of Records does not carry out this selection process, one of the personal files brought up for disposal (chosen at random by the HR Manager) should be kept and handed over to the National Archives. All the other files are to be destroyed. HRIMS contains record of all public service employees as from 1996. This implies that all personal files of government employees who terminated their employment prior to 1996 will not be selected, as their personal details are not included in HRIMS. Therefore a separate exercise is to be performed to bring up all those files and decide which are to be archived and not. The criteria mentioned above will apply for those cases as well. This exercise is to be performed depending on resources available and taking appropriate time as necessary.

Retention Policy for HR Documents

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April 2012


Data Protection Unit Operations & Programme Implementation Directorate, OPM

A record is to be kept of all personal files transferred to the National Archives as well as of all personal files that are destroyed. No personal file is to be disposed of if there are pending issues regarding the employee concerned. b) New Forms The forms and records referred to in the retention schedule, which are generated as from the date of issue of these policy guidelines, are to be destroyed after the retention period indicated. It is pertinent to note that all forms and records which are normally placed in the personal files of respective officers are to conform to disposal procedures regarding personal files. c) Old Forms All forms and records which had been retained before the date of issue of these guidelines fall under this category. Where these forms are held in personal files, they will be destroyed when the respective personal file is brought up for disposal. In cases where other old forms mentioned in this policy document are kept separately, such forms are to be also destroyed. This covers also the old attendance sheets which have been stored, with the exception of those attendance sheets for the years between 1976 and 1979. All soft copies of documents inserted in the personal files whose retention period has elapsed, including those that might have been forwarded to the National Archivist, are henceforth to be deleted should such soft copies not have already been deleted.

Conclusion This retention policy aims to strike a balance between the requirements of the National Archives and good HR practice in the management of disposal of personal records, taking into consideration data protection requirements. Notwithstanding the retention periods mentioned, the National Archives reserve their right under the NAA to request samples of personal files, forms and records to be archived. Any such requests would be communicated to Heads of Department. In the absence of such requests, all HR Managers are expected to conform to the retention schedule established, and the implementation procedures described above. It is pertinent to note that destruction of records, where indicated in this policy, should be carried out appropriately, making sure that such records cease to exist any longer. Heads of Department and Data Protection Officers are expected to be aware of retention and disposal procedures, and they are to be informed and kept abreast of developments in any exercise that involves disposal of personal records and files.

Endorsement of retention schedules This retention policy was endorsed by the National Archivist on 10 April 2012, after consultation with the Commissioner for Information and Data Protection, in line with the provisions of the National Archives Act (Cap 477).

Retention Policy for HR Documents

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April 2012

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