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Record-keeping - statutory requirements

Employers are required by law to keep certain records relating to their workers and their business for specified periods. The table below sets out the requirements.

Employment law

Drivers' hours, work breaks and rest breaks

Record: Tachograph record cards designed to record drivers' hours, work breaks and rest breaks.

Retention period: Minimum of one year after use.

Form of record: Employers should issue drivers with cards that are for an approved model and suitable for use in the equipment installed in the vehicle.

Legislation: EU Regulation 561/2006 on recording equipment in road transport vehicles (art.16(3)(c)).

Note: Copies of record cards must be given to the drivers concerned upon request, and must be produced or handed over at the request of any authorised inspecting officer.

National minimum wage

Record: Records sufficient to establish that every worker is being, or has been, remunerated at a rate at least equal to the national minimum wage.

Retention period: Three years from the day the pay reference period immediately following that to which the records relate ends.

Form of record: Records must be in a form that enables the information kept about a worker in respect of a pay reference period to be produced in a single document.

Legislation: National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/621), reg.59.

Working time restrictions

Record: Records that are adequate to show that the limits on weekly working time, daily and weekly working time for young workers, and night work (including night work involving special hazards or heavy physical or mental strain); the restriction on employing young workers during the "restricted period"; and the requirement to give every worker an opportunity of a free health assessment before he or she is transferred from day work to night work and at regular intervals thereafter are being met.

Retention period: Two years from the date on which the records were made.

Form of record: None prescribed.

Legislation: Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833), reg.9.

Absence during pregnancy and statutory maternity pay

Record:

  1. the date of an employee's first day of absence from work wholly or partly because of pregnancy or confinement as notified by her and, if different, the date of the first day when such absence commenced;
  2. the weeks in that tax year in which statutory maternity pay (SMP) was paid to that employee and the amount paid in each week;
  3. any week in that tax year within the employee's maternity pay period for which no payment of SMP was made (and why); and
  4. any medical certificate or other evidence relating to the employee's expected week of confinement or, as appropriate, her confinement.

Retention period: Three years after the end of the tax year in which the employee's maternity pay period ended.

Form of record: None prescribed. An approved form is available from HM Revenue and Customs (SMP2 statutory maternity pay: record sheet) (on the HMRC website).

Legislation: Statutory Maternity Pay (General) Regulations 1986 (SI 1986/1960), reg.26.

Note: Where an employer returns a medical certificate to an employee for the purpose of enabling her to make a claim for benefit, it will be sufficient for a copy of that certificate to be retained.

An employer shall not retain any certificate of birth provided as evidence of confinement by a woman who is or was an employee, but shall retain a record of the date of birth.

Statutory paternity pay, statutory shared parental pay and statutory adoption pay

Record:

  1. the date the paternity pay period, shared parental pay period or adoption pay period began;
  2. the evidence provided by the employee in support of his or her entitlement to statutory paternity pay or statutory adoption pay (in compliance with the Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay (General) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2822), regs.9, 15 and 24, or statutory shared parental pay (in compliance with the Statutory Shared Parental Pay (General) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/3051) regs.6, 7, 19 and 20);
  3. the weeks in that tax year in which payments of statutory paternity pay, shared parental pay or statutory adoption pay were made and the amount paid in each week; and
  4. any week in that tax year which was within the employee's paternity pay period, shared parental pay period or adoption pay period but for which no payment was made (and why).

Retention period: Three years after the end of the tax year in which payments of statutory paternity pay, shared parental pay or statutory adoption pay were made.

Form of record: None prescribed. Approved forms are available from HM Revenue and Customs SAP2 statutory adoption pay: record sheet, SPP2 shared parental pay: record sheet (on the HMRC website).

Legislation: Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay (Administration) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2820), reg.9 and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (Administration) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2929), reg.9

Right to work documents

Record: Records of documents sufficient to establish that the worker has the right to work in the UK, evidenced by a number of specified documents (or two documents in specified combination) from List A or List B as set out in the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006.

Retention period: For the period of employment and two years post employment.

Form of record: Copies of such documents as provided by the worker in support of his or her entitlement to work in the UK.

Legislation: Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 s.21 and Immigration (Restrictions on Employment) Order 2007 (SI 2007/3290), art.6.

Note: Whilst is is not a legal requirement to retain copies of such documents, it will provide a defence, or statutory excuse, against liability for payment of a civil penalty for employing a migrant worker illegally, except where employers do so knowingly.

Health and safety legislation

Accidents at work and work-related illness

Record: Every employer with 10 or more employees must keep readily accessible a means by which an employee may record the particulars of any accident causing personal injury to him or her.

Retention period: Minimum of three years from the date on which the record was made.

Form of record: Form BI 510 (available from the HSE books website) or an equivalent record (written or electronic) which includes the prescribed particulars, as set out in sch.4 to the Regulations.

Legislation: Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1979 (SI 1979/628), reg.25.

Injuries, fatalities, diseases and dangerous occurrences

Record: Record of any: reportable incident under regs.4-7 of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/1471); reportable diagnosis under regs.8-10 of the Regulations; injury to a person at work resulting from an accident arising out of or in connection with that work, incapacitating him or her for routine work for more than three consecutive days; and other particulars approved by the Health and Safety Executive or the Office of Rail Regulation for demonstrating compliance with the approved manner of reporting under part 1 of sch.1.

Retention period: Minimum of three years from the date on which the record was made.

Form of record: None prescribed. The particulars required to be kept are set out in part 2 of sch.1 to the Regulations. Alternatively, approved forms are available from the incident reporting page on the Health and Safety Executive website, including F2508IE - Report of an injury, F2508DOE - Report of a dangerous occurrence and F2508AE - Report of an occupational disease).

Legislation: Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/1471), reg.12.

Inspection of excavations, cofferdams or caissons

Record: Report of inspection by a competent person of excavations, cofferdams or caissons, and any work equipment and materials which affect their safety.

Retention period: Until the excavation, cofferdam or caisson is complete and after that for three months.

Form of record: None prescribed. The particulars required to be included in an inspection report are set out in sch.3 to the Regulations.

Legislation: Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/51), reg.24.

Note: The report, or a copy of it, must be provided to the person on whose behalf the inspection was carried out within 24 hours of completion of the inspection, and that person must keep the report or a copy of it available for inspection and send to the inspector such extracts as the inspector may from time to time require.

Obtaining lifting equipment

Record: EC declaration of conformity provided in respect of lifting equipment to which the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 apply.

Retention period: For as long as the lifting equipment is being operated.

Form of record: EC declaration of conformity.

Legislation: Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/2307), reg.11(1).

Examining lifting equipment

Record:

  1. report of the thorough examination of lifting equipment before it is first put into service by the employer;
  2. report of the thorough examination of an accessory for lifting before it is first put into service by the employer;
  3. report of the thorough examination of lifting equipment where the safety of the equipment depends on the installation conditions;
  4. report of the thorough examination of lifting equipment which is exposed to conditions causing deterioration which is liable to result in dangerous situations; and
  5. a written record of any defect in lifting equipment discovered during an examination under (a), (b), (c) or (d) which is, or could, become a danger to persons.

Retention period:

  1. until the employer ceases to use the lifting equipment;
  2. for two years after the report is made;
  3. until the employer ceases to use the equipment at the place it was installed or assembled;
  4. until the next examination report of that equipment is made or the expiration of two years, whichever is later; and
  5. until the next such record is made.

Form of record: A written report of the thorough investigation of lifting equipment under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 must contain the information set out in sch.1; it must be signed (or otherwise authenticated) by (or on behalf of) the person making the examination; and must be submitted by the person making the examination to the employer and any person from whom the lifting equipment has been hired or leased.

Legislation: Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/2307), regs.9, 10 and 11.

Note: All records must be kept available for inspection as required.

Risk assessments

Record: Where an employer employs five or more employees, it shall record:

  1. the significant findings of the risk assessment (as prescribed by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, reg.3(1));
  2. any group of employees identified by the risk assessment as being especially at risk; and
  3. any arrangements for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of preventive and protective measures, made in accordance with reg.5(1).

Retention period: No time limit specified.

Form of record: None prescribed. For guidance on carrying out a risk assessment see INDG163 (Five steps to risk assessment) (PDF format, 114K) (on the HSE website).

Legislation: Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/3242), regs.3(6) and 5.

Note: The employer must review the risk assessment if there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid or there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates.

Classified persons, overexposure and ionising radiation

Record: Health record of:
  1. classified persons and persons whom an employer intends to designate as classified persons;
  2. employees who have received an overexposure and who are not classified persons; and
  3. employees where an appointed doctor or employment medical adviser has certified in their health records that they should not be engaged in work with ionising radiation or who should only be engaged in work with ionising radiation subject to conditions.

Retention period: Until the person to whom the record relates has or would have attained the age of 75 years, but in any event for at least 30 years from the date of the last entry made in it.

Form of record: None prescribed. The particulars required are set out in sch.6 to the Regulations.

Legislation: Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/1075), reg.25.

Note: Records must be made available to the appointed doctor or employment medical adviser as is reasonably required.

Exposure to lead
Record: Health record of an employee who is, or is liable to be, exposed to lead, and is under suitable medical surveillance by a relevant doctor, where:
  1. the exposure to lead is liable to be significant;
  2. the blood-lead concentration or urinary-lead concentration is measured and equals or exceeds the prescribed maximum blood-lead or urinary-lead concentrations; or
  3. a relevant doctor certifies that the employee should be under such medical surveillance, and the technique of investigation is of low risk to the employee.

Retention period: Minimum of 40 years from the date of the last entry in it.

Form of record: None prescribed.

Legislation: Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2676), reg.10.

Note: The employer must provide the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) with copies of personal health records as required; allow an employee access to his or her personal health record, on reasonable notice being given; and, if it ceases to trade, notify the HSE in writing to this effect and make available to the HSE all personal health records kept by it.

Examinations of local exhaust ventilation and plant and respiratory protective equipment

Record: A record of the prescribed examinations and tests of local exhaust ventilation plant and respiratory protective equipment and of the repairs carried out as a result of those examinations and tests.

Retention period: Minimum of five years from the date on which it was made.

Form of record: None prescribed. For further information see Control of lead at work: Approved Code of Practice and guidance (third edition) (PDF format, 765K) (on the HSE website).

Legislation: Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2676), reg.8.

Exposure to asbestos
Record:
  1. a health record (or copy of that record), containing particulars approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), relating to each employee who is exposed to asbestos, unless the work is exempted under reg.3(2) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012; and
  2. a certificate (or a copy of that certificate) issued by the relevant doctor, where an employee is under medical surveillance and has undergone a medical examination (in accordance with reg.22(1)(c) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012), stating that the employee has been so examined and giving the date of the examination.

Retention period:

  1. minimum of 40 years from the date of the last entry made in it; and
  2. minimum of 4 years from the date of issue.

Form of record: None prescribed. For further information see Managing and working with asbestos: Approved Code of Practice and guidance (PDF format, 557K) (on the HSE website).

Legislation: Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/632), reg.22.

Note: The employer must provide the HSE with copies of personal health records as required; allow an employee access to his or her personal health record, on reasonable notice being given; if it ceases to trade, notify the HSE in writing to this effect and make available to the HSE all personal health records kept by it; and permit a doctor who requires to inspect any record kept for the purpose of the Regulations to do so.

Exposure to specified hazardous substances

Record: Record of health surveillance, containing particulars approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), of persons where appropriate (see the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, reg.11(2)) who are, or are liable to be, exposed to substances hazardous to health.

Retention period: 40 years from the date of the last entry made in it.

Form of record: None prescribed, but must contain the information specified in Control of substances hazardous to health: Approved Code of Practice and guidance (fifth edition) (PDF format, 919K) (on the HSE website).

Legislation: Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2677), reg.11.

Tax credits and tax records

Wages and deductions

Record: PAYE records that employers are not otherwise required to send to HM Revenue and Customs under the Income Tax (Pay As You Earn) Regulations 2003. Employers should keep full and accurate payroll records for each employee, including name; address; payslips (or other record showing gross earnings, tax, national insurance contributions and student loan deductions, and net pay); and records used to complete P11Ds. HM Revenue and Customs can ask for evidence of calculations and supporting information.

Retention period: Three years after the end of the income tax year to which the records relate.

Form of record: None prescribed.

Legislation: Income Tax (Pay As You Earn) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/2682), reg.97.

Accounting and company transactions

Record: Every company shall keep accounting records that are sufficient to show and explain the company's transactions and are such as to:

  1. disclose with reasonable accuracy, at any time, the financial position of the company at that time; and
  2. enable the directors to ensure that any accounts required to be prepared comply with the requirements of the Companies Act 2006 and, where applicable, art.4 of Council Regulation 1606/2002 on the application of international accounting standards.

Retention period: In the case of a private company, for three years from the date on which they are made; and in the case of a public company, for six years from the date on which they are made. This is subject to any provision contained in the rules made under the Insolvency Act 1986, s.411.

Form of record: Not applicable.

Legislation: Companies Act 2006, ss.386 to 389.

VAT account, tax invoices, imports and credit and debit notes

Record: Every taxable person shall keep and preserve his or her business and accounting records; VAT account; copies of all tax invoices issued; tax invoices received; documents relating to imports and exports; and all credit and debit notes (and any other records as prescribed in the Value Added Tax Regulations 1995, reg.31).

Retention period: Minimum of six years.

Form of record: Not applicable.

Legislation:
Value Added Tax Act 1994, sch.11, paragraph 6.
Value Added Tax Regulations 1995 (SI 1995/2518), reg.31.

Corporation tax

Record: Corporation tax records. All companies are required by law to keep records. The precise records to be kept by a company will depend on the size of its business, but they will include records of all receipts and purchases and must be adequate to enable the company to send in a correct Company Tax Return.

Retention period: Minimum of six years after the end of the accounting period to which they relate.(Records may need to be kept for longer than six years, for example if the Company Tax Return is made late.)

Form of record: Not applicable.

Legislation: Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988.

Note: The Companies Act 2006 separately requires registered companies to keep accounting records (see above). For most companies, those records will be sufficient to satisfy the corporation tax requirement, as long as they are kept for up to six years after the end of the accounting period to which they relate.