From 1 January 2019, new rules apply to the keeping and retention of employee records. The employer’s obligation to keep employee files has been reduced from 50 to 10 years. Employers also have the option to keep files in electronic form at their own choice.

The amendment introduces the obligation to keep personal files and documentation on matters related to the employment relationship for 10 years, counting from the end of the calendar year in which the employment relationship was terminated or expired.

The amendment also introduces several exceptions to the above-mentioned rule depending on the moment when the employment relationship is concluded:

  • Employment relationships entered into before 1 January 1999

For contracts entered into before 1 January 1999, it is not possible to shorten the retention period for employee records. Records must be kept for 50 years.

  • Employment relationships entered into after 31 December 1998 and before 1 January 2019.

An employer may shorten the period of retention of employee records to 10 years on condition that he submits a declaration to ZUS on his intention to submit information reports (ZUS OSW) and subsequently submits an information report (ZUS RIA). The report should be submitted for all employees and contractors employed for a period of 20 years, i.e. between 31 December 1998 and 31 December 2018. The report is a compilation of information concerning the above-mentioned insured persons during the indicated period. It should include:

§ data on paid income necessary to determine the basis of the pension assessment

§ data concerning periods and hours of work in special conditions or of special nature

§ date, mode of termination of the last employment relationship, legal basis for termination or expiry of the last employment relationship and information on whose initiative the employment relationship was terminated.

  • Employment relationships established after 31 December 2018.

The employer must keep employee records for a period of 10 years, with exceptions provided for in the legislation relating to the initiation of proceedings in which the employee records constitute evidence. What are these exceptions?

§ If the employer is a party to a pending proceeding (labour law, social security, criminal, civil, etc.), the employer will be required to keep employee records until the proceeding is legally concluded, but for no less than 10 years.

§ If the employer becomes aware of pending proceedings in which employee records may be used as evidence (the form in which such knowledge is received is irrelevant), the retention period for employee records is extended by 12 months compared to the standard 10-year retention period.

Important!

According to the new regulations, the employee has the right to collect the employee documentation after the expiry of the period of its retention, and the employer is obliged, together with the employment certificate, to provide the employee with information about the period of retention of the documentation and the possibility for the employee to collect it by the end of the calendar month following the month in which the period expired, as well as about the destruction of the documentation by the employer if it is not collected.

Electronic folders

The amendment has also enabled employers to keep employee folders in electronic form. The transition from paper to electronic form may apply to all employees. The change of the form of the documentation is made by making a digital copy (in particular a scan) and affixing it with a qualified electronic signature or a qualified electronic seal of the employer, or a qualified electronic signature of a person authorised by the employer, confirming the compliance of the digital copy with the paper document.

The employer is obliged to inform employees about:

  • a change in the way employee documentation is stored and maintained;
  • the possibility to collect the previous form of the documentation within 30 days from the submission of this information.