At the Massachusetts Municipal Personnel Association meeting on March 7 Kellie O’Shea, Associate General Counsel at Creative Solutions, Inc., discusses ways background checks can be conducted and different buckets information can come from: federal, county etc. CORI doesn’t capture everything (eg, restraining orders are civil, not criminal.)

A critical question caught the attention of the Massachusetts Municipal Personnel Association during its March 7 meeting in Quincy: How long must municipal personnel departments keep employment-related records?

Determining which records to keep and for how long is an important part of a public sector human resources manager’s job.

State law requires public record holders to maintain all records – including electronic records – in a safe, secure and searchable manner. The law also provides for the proper destruction of records.

The Secretary of the Commonwealth maintains a Municipal Records Retention Schedule on its website. There are separate records retention schedules for statewide agencies and for municipalities.

The municipal rules define two types of records: “records in common,” which are held by many municipal offices and departments and include personnel records, and records that are specific to municipal offices and departments. (The schedule includes a list of these offices and departments.)

The retention schedule establishes four categories of records:
• Records that are retained until they are no longer needed
• Records that may have historical significance
• Permanent records
• Records for which the retention period varies, depending on certain conditions

The schedule sets retention timelines for each record category.

If a record is covered by both state and federal records laws, municipal employers are advised to adhere to whichever retention timeline is longer.

Keeping records in a central location may reduce retention timelines for certain types of records.

The Secretary of the Commonwealth’s “Municipal Records Retention Schedule Quick Guide” is available at www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/arcpdf/Municipal_Retention_Schedule_20161109.pdf.

Electronic Records Management Guidelines can be found at www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/arcpdf/Electronic_Records_Guidelines.pdf.

The Massachusetts Statewide Records Retention Schedule, updated last year, is available at www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/arcpdf/MA_Statewide_Records_Schedule.pdf.

For federal General Records Schedules, visit www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/grs.

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