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

Electronic Records Management Guidelines can be found at

The Massachusetts Statewide Records Retention Schedule, updated last year, is available at

For federal General Records Schedules, visit

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