Therefore, the organization should track how records should remain accessible over time, which determines the form in which records are stored. A consideration of “what constitutes a record” will likely force the conclusion that many emails never become records and therefore do not require an email retention policy. Many files, including those in email accounts, must be retained by U.S. organizations in case of future lawsuits or for eDiscovery requests. Not only will significant fines be imposed, but groups can also be sued if information is deleted before the retention period expires. Email retention periods vary greatly for different types of data. Most federal and state email retention laws require email data to be retained for between 3 and 7 years, although there are exceptions and some types of data may need to be retained much longer, or even indefinitely. Companies are increasingly turning to automation to simplify their email record retention policies. Many companies give employees the freedom to collect an unlimited number of emails and files without control over categorization, management, or deletion. Some use automated features already available in existing programs to control retention, such as mailbox size limits. State laws, such as wage and hour laws, are sources of retention obligations. Legal retention obligations may be implied indirectly from other sources such as limitation periods. Internal business considerations also result in legal retention requirements, but in general, it`s generally a good idea to retain important documents and communications for at least 7 years, depending on industry standards and specific circumstances.
This policy applies to emails, voice messages, text messages, among others. Cloud e-mail archiving is a cost-effective solution that enables organizations to maintain a tamper-proof copy of all messages to meet compliance requirements and enable disaster recovery. An e-mail archive saves disk space on the e-mail server, which increases performance. When you factor in productivity gains and reduced time spent composing emails to resolve customer complaints, audits, and eDiscovery requests, an email archive is money well spent. Each industry has different regulations around e-mail retention and archiving. Before you create your organization`s personal email retention policies, you should always start by listing the industry-standard regulations that your organization is committed to following. This should include consideration of all relevant record-keeping requirements related to each regulation. Below is a high-level list of some of the most common archiving requirements. When in doubt, it is safer to keep your email communications for at least 7 years. A key feature of an organization`s email retention policy is a company`s ability to effectively and quickly impose a legal retention period in the event of a claim or lawsuit.
According to case law, the obligation to retain records arises when a complaint is received or when litigation is likely. Organizations may suspend automated email deletion programs or recycling of backup media until a decision is made on which documents and information should be retained, and possibly for the duration of the dispute. In the event of a dispute, compliance audit or employment tribunal, emails must be created. Failure to create emails when required by regulators can result in multiple fines, and the consequences of not providing email data when required by the courts can be devastating. Many laws do not explicitly specify the format of the email data retained, but an email archive is the best choice for data retention. Email archives are designed for long-term data storage and easy data recovery. When an email is sent to the archive for long-term storage, it is indexed and tagged so that searches can be performed. If an email or series of emails needs to be found, a search can be performed and the emails can be retrieved in seconds or minutes. U.S.
companies have been forced to keep records for years. Records retention laws are contained in several legal acts, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 of 1965, the Freedom of Information Act of 1967, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and the Reform and Control Act of 1986; However, a decade ago, data retention laws in the United States were updated to include “electronic” communications, such as electronic messages and attachments. An important caveat about this and any record retention practices: Review your retention policy with your legal department or an external consultant. Deleting documents that are subject to litigation hold or other retention notices can have significant negative consequences for your organization. Defining how long your company will retain email communication can be more difficult than you originally thought. The first stumbling block is that different departments advocate different storage windows. Companies use email archiving solutions to ensure that their emails are retained in accordance with relevant legal and regulatory requirements. However, there are other steps that need to be taken to maintain the compliance of email records.
An important one of these is an email retention policy. Archiving each email for maximum regulation can become impractical and costly. To avoid this pitfall, create an email classification structure that you and your employees can track. Implementation can be complex, as each employee will subjectively rank their communication. To keep the emails you put in these buckets more consistent, keep your categories broad. You can create separate categories for professional, personal, invoice, and other general categories that fit your particular business model. Email is an important part of running a business, and there are a lot of them. Failure to comply with email discovery requests in litigation can have financial and legal implications for your business.
That`s why creating and implementing an effective email retention policy is so important. Whether you run a small private business or work in a large government agency, here are the email retention best practices you need to follow to be ready for anything: ArcTitan is a cost-effective, fast, and easy-to-manage email archiving solution from TitanHQ that meets the needs of all organizations and enables them to comply with all U.S. email retention laws. If your organization is sued, are you willing to provide records of all communications and transactions made by specific individuals – whether communications, emails, instructions, files, or requests? To be fully prepared for eDiscovery or litigation, you need to create a true retention strategy with the help of your legal and IT teams.