Taking Your HR Department Paperless: A Herculean but Important Task

Taking Your HR Department Paperless: A Herculean but Important Task

Posted by Melissa Fleischer, Esq. on Oct 9th 2013

Have you been thinking of taking your HR Department paperless but delayed because you were not sure where to begin.  The task of taking your HR Department can be daunting.  HR has responsibility for more documents than perhaps any other department in your organization.  HR has responsibility for all hiring documents including resumes, employment applications, offer letters, I9’s, background checks, insurance information, benefit elections, FMLA forms, reasonable accommodation forms, employee handbooks, job descriptions, performance reviews, termination letters, etc.  The list seems endless.  Clearly, it will be helpful to have a plan of action to help take your HR Department paperless.

Creating a step-by-step checklist will help make the process easier for you. Working as a team with HR, IT and Legal will be essential.  There are many issues that you will need to coordinate as a team such as document retention issues, ensuring that you can properly respond to electronic discovery and avoid spoliation claims, maintaining document security, setting up a document management system that will enable you to be able to properly retrieve and organize all these electronic documents and compliance with data security laws regarding data disposal and disposal of documents with personal identification information.

Another consideration when determining whether to take your HR Department paperless will be the access that employees in your workforce will have to these electronic documents.  Clearly, if most of your workforce does not have access to computers, it will be difficult for HR to successfully go paperless so this will be one of the considerations you should be thinking about.  In addition, if you decide to solve this problem by now having computer kiosks where employees can now access this electronic information, keep in mind that this can create ADA issues regarding providing employees who are disabled with equipment and/or software to allow them to access these electronic records and documents.

Although clearly, a daunting task, going paperless seems to be a win-win for any organization.  It improves efficiency, saves necessary office space, helps build brand and improves morale.  Make sure that before you commence your journey on the road to going paperless, you discuss any potential legal issues with your legal department, consult with IT and make sure that they can support such a move to electronic documents and get the buy-in of upper management to ensure that your move to paperless will be a successful one. The key will be communication not just with your legal, IT and upper-management but also with your entire workforce.  Although it can appear overwhelming, organizations have found that going paperless can be the key to successfully taking your HR Department to the next level as an effective business partner in your organization.