Good practice for keeping staff records


26 / 8 / 2016 3pm

The following page reminds employers of the need to keep readily accessible, detailed historical employment records for all staff, and for appropriate periods of time.

Employers are encouraged to re-visit their record keeping arrangements to ensure they are robust and should consider running a test on one employee’s records to check how robust and accessible their records are.


The need to maintain employment records properly was highlighted as a result of the number of equal pay claims which had been lodged by NHS employers. NHS organisations are advised to consider the extent to which they adhere to this guidance and take appropriate actions to address any shortcomings.

Equal pay record keeping

The need to keep good records has been highlighted recently by a defence being struck out in an equal pay case due to a significant loss of employment documentation relating to applicants and comparators in the claims.  It has prompted us to remind employers of:

  • The Records Management Code of Practice. This guide is based on current legal requirements and professional best practice.
  • The care needed to ensure documents are available for resolution of equal pay claims if and when payment is required. 
Circumstances where retention of records might be at risk include:

  • When an employee moves job.  Employers should make sure that records of past employment are retained
  • When organisations merge or change.  Employers should keep track of documents and their location

The Electronic Staff Record

The electronic staff record (ESR) can provide a comprehensive tool to maintain all employment data in equal pay claims, but only when it has been in operation for a minimum of 6 years for all employees.  Organisations will need to ensure that paper records, predating the ESR, are tracked down; stored and readily accessible upon request. 

Trusts that have already moved to the ESR or are to move in the future should check whether data was or will be migrated from legacy systems or whether they will need to use their archived records.  There could be drawbacks to the microfiche or paper records and trusts may wish to consider extending contracts for the retention of electronic records where historical records have been kept in this form. 

The ESR team is working to produce two new reports on payment history and salary history and to make those available for trusts. This will support organisations in gathering the information needed for equal pay claims. 

Electronic job evaluation systems

An electronic job evaluation system can also help organisations maintain records. The system should allow organisations to capture key information regarding the job evaluation process and related documentation, including job description and person specification documents; information relating to the original panel’s deliberations; the consistency checking panel and review panel, and relevant process dates.

Staffing resources and skills

Employers should:

  • Ensure sufficient staff are available with the appropriate skills to use the ESR and electronic JE systems - employment tribunal deadlines are often short.
  • Ensure that there is appropriate access time available on the ESR system to carry out this work. 
  • Keep track of managers, HR and staff side leads who have historical knowledge of the processes followed and paperwork used during the local implementation of Agenda for Change, as and when they move on. 

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