Tips For Storing Paper Records

It’s that time again where many businesses large and small will have completed all of their financial year-end paperwork. There’s always a question of how long you need to keep paperwork for and where is the safest place. In this article, we explore some simple tips for storing paper records, the type of documents and how archive storage can help.

How Can Archive Storage Help When Storing Paper Records?

Don’t think of archive storage as rows and rows of filing cabinets as those days are long gone. The way companies are storing paper records have changed with business storage units becoming increasingly popular. Then there’s digital storage which refers to storing paper records electronically on hard drives, flash drives and the cloud.

Digitally Storing Paper Records

You can store a lot of your paperwork electronically but make sure you capture all the important information on each document. Always have sufficient back-ups in place to protect yourself against the risk of losing records or accidentally deleting something. Its best practice to keep physical copies of the most important documentation, especially those that may need to be submitted as part of your tax and employment records, for example.

Knowing which company records to keep and for how long will help minimise your paper clutter whether at the office, home or in a business storage unit. It also means having a more organised filing system so you know where to find the most important documents when you need them. So which business documents should you keep and for how long?

Which Business Records Do You Keep?

  • Pay as You Earn records including all payments made to employees, deductions made for income tax, national insurance, student loan payments and any statutory payments
  • Sales and takings including till rolls, sales invoices, bank statements, paying-in slips and accounting records, cash receipts
  • Keep all receipts, purchase invoices, bank and credit card statements, chequebook stubs, motoring expenses and mileage records
  • Assets, liabilities, income and expenditure
  • Benefits records – You should also keep on file any paperwork relating to statutory sick pay, statutory maternity, paternity or adoption pay and any employee benefits.
  • If your business is VAT registered, you are required by law to keep track of all your VAT accounts. This includes VAT sales and purchase invoices, any import and export documents such as delivery notes

What If You Are A Limited Company?

If your business is a limited company, you must keep all your accounting and business records to prove the financial position of your business and to comply with the Companies Act. This includes bank statements, paying-in slips, account books, purchases and sales information.

Recommended: ‘Company And Accounting Records For Limited Companies

Rules For CIS-Registered Contractor

Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) records – Under the scheme, if you’re a CIS-registered contractor you are legally required to keep records of any payments made, deductions, and materials purchased by subcontractors for at least three years.

How Long Do I Keep Business Records For?

Certain documents must be stored according to the legal timeframes, including the following:

  • Accounting and tax documents – 3 years (private companies), 6 years (public limited companies)
  • Immigration checks – 2 years from termination of employment
  • Expense accounts – 6 years from the end of the related tax year
  • Wage and salary records – 6 years and 3 years after the end of the pay reference period
  • Annual leave and working time records – 2 years from the date they were made
  • Maternity, paternity, shared paternal leave – 3 years from the end of the related tax year
  • National Insurance returns and HMRC correspondence – 3 years from the end of the related tax year
  • Accident and injury reports – 3 years from the date of the last entry. If it involves a child or young adult, the documents should be kept until that person turns 21

How Long Should You Keep Staff Records?

Although the new data protection law (GDPR) doesn’t specifically give retention periods, it states that companies must store personal data for as long as they need it. Here are some recommended retention periods:

  • CVs and interview notes for unsuccessful applicants – 6 to 12 months (based on time limits in various discrimination-related laws)
  • Sick pay records of current employees – 3 months after sick leave was taken (in case they make a disability discrimination claim)
  • Sick pay records of former employees – Up to 6 years from the end of employment (in case they make a breach of contract claim)
  • Personnel files and training records – Up to 6 years from the end of employment
  • Redundancy details – Up to 6 years from the date of redundancy
  • HMRC approval documents – Permanently
  • Pension records – 12 years after the benefit stops or any benefit payable under the policy ends

How To Manage And Store Documents

When it comes to storing paper records, businesses must manage important documents through the entire lifecycle. In other words, from the time documents are created, through their useful life up until their safe destruction or storage. With an organised document storage policy, companies should be able to retrieve the records quickly whenever they need to.

Many businesses will likely have piles of paperwork and business records on employees, tax, incomes and expenses. While most paperwork is necessary, and depending on the size of the business, keeping it does require some space. While digital storage is always an option, you could also consider renting a business storage unit.

How To Use Archive Storage Effectively

To ensure documents maintain a certain quality, files should be stored in a clean, dry and secure space. A reputable storage facility, like Space Centre, is ideal to protect records from humidity, damp, theft, natural disasters and accidental loss. Packing a storage unit can be a monumental task so we recommend following these simple tips.

  • Maximise the height of the unit with additional shelving and tall racks (read the storage rules and regulations)
  • Place the more popular items closer to the entrance
  • Pack heavier boxes or items at the bottom to minimise collapses and potential injury
  • Consider an inventory management software for easy and accurate record-keeping
  • Create a master list of every item in the business storage unit so everyone knows where to find everything
  • Leave a walkway in the middle for better access to all the documents and boxes
  • Label every box on multiple sides

Archive Storage At Space Centre

Many people choose Space Centre Self Storage for storing paper records as we offer short term or long term contracts without requiring a deposit. We also have FREE storage insurance up to the value of £3000 where you can use our provider or your own.

Our storage facilities are conveniently located in Bristol, Stroud, Gloucester and Stonehouse with a large selection of units in various sizes. Some also have drive-up access to make loading and unloading a breeze.

All of our storage units are clean, dry and in secure compounds with alarms, CCTV and smoke detectors. Contact us today if you are looking for an affordable, safe way of storing paper records, stock or equipment.

Important Government Links To Storing Paper Records