Does your construction business have a clear records retention policy in place? Does that policy apply to everyone within the company, from a part-time administrative assistant all the way up through the owner of the business?
Without a records retention program in place, you may be vulnerable in the event of litigation.
Our short list of five reasons your company needs a clear records retention policy is aimed at those in the construction business, but everyone can benefit from taking a closer look at their own internal document archiving and records retention policies.
Why Do You Need a Records Retention Policy?
1. Stay in Line With Local, State, and Federal Labor and Privacy Laws
We've seen it before — business owners overwhelmed by the sheer amount of regulations governing documentation in construction simply shortchanging records retention, hoping to just avoid all the hassle.
However, if you face litigation for any reason, that lack of organization could hamstring your ability to make sure your side of the story is heard.
In many cases, state and federal regulations and labor laws depend heavily on the number of employees working for the business. Maintaining clear and easily-accessed records could be the difference between being able to effectively handle litigation and struggling to find and provide the correct documentation to prove your case.
In fact, one often-overlooked fact is simply that destroying your records too quickly could violate state and federal privacy laws, resulting in penalties against your business.
2. Protect Yourself From Liability in the Event of Unexpected Litigation
It's not unheard of for a construction company to face litigation years or even decades after the completion of a project. Your ability to defend yourself will rest largely on how well you can produce documentation from the time period in question.
Don't rely on protection by way of a statute of limitations or statute of repose. Take the time to know which documents to retain and develop a policy that ensures each and every employee knows which of their documentation needs to be retained.
3. In-House Organization Provides a Less Chaotic Working Environment
As part of our work with law firms, corporations, and other organizations, we've often entered a client's office to discover boxes upon boxes of poorly-organized documents, or whole rooms sacrificed in order to store file cabinets bursting at the seams.
Some of it is relevant to the case at hand, some isn't, but there's no way to know without poring over every paper piece by piece, adding extra time and financial cost to any necessary review.
No construction business can go entirely "paperless", but storing essential documentation in secure cloud-based storage helps to clear office clutter without increasing vulnerability to litigation.
4. Cut Costs Related to Maintaining Unnecessary Records
The truth is, there is a certain cost associated with retaining unnecessary records.
You'll lose productivity when employees are forced to waste time searching for documents in a disorganized office, and you may end up shelling out unnecessary money for extra office space, filing cabinets, hard drives, and other storage options for records more efficiently maintained with secure cloud storage.
5. Emphasize a "Culture of Security" For All Employees
Finally, you'll put your employees' minds at ease.
A clear, comprehensive records retention policy, implemented across the board and maintained by every single person involved in the business, creates a "culture of security" in the office and on the worksite.
Employees will know that records are securely maintained, whether hard copy or digital, and will be able to rely on clearly written regulations to guide their own behavior, rather than having to guess at what needs to be retained and what doesn't.
We recommend developing your records retention policy alongside your Human Resources team, then having HR ensure that all employees are thoroughly trained in records retention as part of a standard workplace process.
Worried About Your Current Records Retention Situation in the Event of Litigation?
Legal Eagle is here to help. We provide litigation support services for clients throughout South Carolina and Western North Carolina from our main office here in Greenville, SC, including secure document storage and legal document archiving. We've worked with many business owners and law firms in the past to ensure their important records are stored safely and available if litigation issues should arise.
Give Legal Eagle a call at (864) 467-1373 or contact us online at any time to learn more.