HR Record Retention Requirements

Germany - Summary Chart

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Germany

Document

Retention Period

Beginning of Retention Period

Legal Reference

EMPLOYMENT RECORDS

Contracts (new hire agreements, severance, etc.)

General: 6 years (including: notification letters for promotion/salary increase; demotion letters; resignation/dismissal letters/end of contract notice; retirement letters)

From end of calendar year that employee terminates

Sec. 147 AO, 257 HGB

Time records (work hours, rest periods, vacation/sick/holiday, etc.)

General: 10 years; Registration of work/rest periods for professional drivers: 2 years; Daily work hours of seconded/borrowed workers who benefit from minimum wages (Mindestlöhne): 2 years

From end of year in which record was created; Seconded/borrowed workers: From creation of record

Sec. 147 (1) No 1, (3) AO, Sec. 257 (1) No 1, (4) HGB; Professional Drivers: Sec. 21a (7) Working Hours Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz, ArbZG); Seconded/borrowed workings: Sec. 19 (1) Seconded Workers Act (Arbeitnehmer-Entsendegesetz, AEntG); Sec. 17c (1) Borrowed Workforce Act (Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz, AÜG); Sec. 16 (2) Working Hours Act (Arbeitszeitengesetz)

Performance records (performance reviews, promotions/demotions, licenses/certifications, investigations, disciplinary actions, etc.)

General: 3 years (including: acknowledged receipts of warning, suspension and demotion letters; internship certificates); Warning letters: 1 year

From end of calendar year that employee terminates

Sec. 195, 199 (1) BGB; Warning letters: Sec. 4 KSchG

Data and personnel files

General: 6 years; Employee photos: Delete immediately once no longer necessary for purpose or upon withdrawal of consent

From end of calendar year that employee terminates

Sec. 147 AO, 257 HGB; Sec. 195, 199 (1) BGB; Sec. 26 BDSG

Government verification records (work papers, immigration, eligibility to work, etc.)

6 years; Copy of identity cards/drivers license: Delete immediately once is no longer necessary for purpose

From end of calendar year that employee terminates

Sec. 147 AO, 257 HGB; Sec. 28f Social Security Code IV (Sozialgesetzbuch IV, SGB IV); Sec. 8 Regulation on Contribution Proceedings (Beitragsverfahrensverordnung, BVV); Sec. 26 BDSG

Collective bargaining/union

Indefinite (usually agreements don't contain personal data)

n/a

n/a

Background checks and drug tests

Only permitted if and to the extent employee agreed to check/drug test and agreed to retention of results (note employee consent can be problematic)

From date of check/test

Depends on the agreement and/or on the withdrawal of employees consent

Acknowledgements, policy agreements and required notices

3 years

From end of calendar year that employee terminates

Sec. 195, 199 (1) BGB

Recruitment (interview notes, resumes/CVs, reference checks, etc.)

Unsuccessful candidate: 6 months (unless consent was obtained to store longer)

Starting from end of application process

Sec. 15 (4) AGG

Tracking/recordings (biometric, geo-location, online tracking, camera recordings, etc.)

Biometric data: Delete immediately once purpose is fulfilled or, if employee interests are opposed to further retention; Online Tracking/ Geolocation: Only permitted in limited cases and may depend on employee's consent (note that employee consent can be problematic) Delete immediately once purpose is fulfilled; Camera recordings: Delete without undue delay once no longer needed or, if individuals have interest in deletion. General best practice is maximum of 72 hours. Longer retention may be permitted in certain cases

From creation of record

Sec. 4 (3) and 26 BDSG

BENEFIT/PENSION/EQUITY RECORDS

Benefits (plan documents, enrollment records)

6 years (including Social security payments)

Beginning with course of calendar year in which obligation was fulfilled or claim/debt ceased to exist

Sec. 147 AO, 257 HGB

Pension and retirement records

Company scheme records (concerning employee claims) and entitlements from other pension funds: 30 years; Divorce of employee, defining pension to be paid records; State Pension approval certificates; Correspondence after retirement begins; and documents/records supporting legal actions after retirement: 6 years

Company scheme and entitlements: From calendar year in which obligation arose; Divorce of employee: From calendar year in which obligation/claim/debt fulfilled

Company scheme and entitlements: Sec. 18a (1) BetrAVG; Divorce of employee: Sec. 147 AO, 257 HGB

Equity records

General: 6 years; ESOP records: 3 years

General: Starting with course of calendar year in which obligation was fulfilled or claim/debt ceased to exist; ESOP: From end of calendar year that employee terminates

Sec. 147 AO, 257 HGB; ESOP: Sec. 195, 199 (1) BGB

PAYROLL/WAGE/TAX RECORDS

Payroll and wage data (payslips, etc.)

General: 10 years; Salary account (Lohnkonto) including employee data relevant for salary payment: 6 years; Exceptional bonus notification; Notification for extra tariff annual bonus (non-manager); and, requests for overtime payment: 6 years

General: From end of year in which record was created; Salary account: From last entry of payment; Exceptional bonus, etc.: From calendar year obligation was fulfilled or claim/debt ceased to exist

Sec. 147 (1) No 1, (3) AO, Sec. 257 (1) No 1, (4) HGB; Salary account: Sec. 41 (1) Income Tax Act (Einkommenssteuergesetz, EStG); Exceptional bonus: Sec. 147 AO, 257 HGB

Tax records

6 years

From calendar year in which obligation was fulfilled or claim/debt ceased to exist

Sec. 147 AO, 257 HGB

MEDICAL/SAFETY/LEAVE RECORDS

Leave (family, medical, etc.)

Leave requests: 3 years; Parental leave records: 3 years (including acknowledged receipt of the parental leave request answer, etc.); General: 6 years (including part-time agreement during parental leave; time off for work accidents/diseases; correspondence relating to leave connected to early retirement; social insurance certificates of early return to work after sick/therapeutic/occupational leave)

Starting with course of calendar year in which obligation was fulfilled or claim/debt ceased to exist

Sec. 195, 199 (1) BGB; Sec. 147 AO, 257 HGB

Injury and illness incident reports

30 years (including notification of workplace accident)

From accident

Sec. 199 (2) BGB

Medical records

Medical certificates (with/without sick leave); disability certificates; request/approval grant records from Unemployment state office for disabled employees; equalization disability employee records; day off for accident at work/on-the-way/occupational disease records: 3 years; Fit to work certificates: 3 years after end of year of medical exam

From end of calendar year that employee terminates; Fit to work certificates: 3 years after end of year of medical exam

Sec. 195, 199 (1) BGB; Sec. 50 (2) JArbSchG

Hazardous material and other exposure records

General: Minimum 40 years; Register of employees who work with 3rd and 4th category biological agents: Minimum 10 years from termination; Ionizing radiation exposure records: Minimum 30 years; Register of employees exposed to asbestos: Minimum 40 years

From end of exposure

Sec. 14 (3) No 3 and 4 Ordinance on Hazardous Substances (Gefahrstoffverordnung, GefStoffV); Sec. 42 StrlSchV; Secs. 64 (3), 103 (aircrews) StrlSchV; Sec. 7 (3) Regulation on Biological Agents (Biostoffverordnung, BioStoffV)

Miscellaneous 1

Pregnant or breastfeeding employee records: 2 years

From last entry

Sec. 19 MuSchG

Miscellaneous 2

Records of mandatory medical certificates documenting medical examinations of minor employees: Maximum until employee’s 18th birthday

From creation

Sec. 41 para. 1 JArbSchG

Miscellaneous 3

Sick children certificate: 3 years

From calendar year in which obligation was fulfilled or claim/debt ceased to exist

Sec. 195, 199 (1) BGB

Ultimate Software's HR Compliance Assist team relies on a network of internal and external compliance experts and lawyers to provide clients with best practices and recommendations on topics such as HR document retention, employee data privacy, and HR electronic records. HR Compliance Assist also provides local compliance monitoring and alert services in select countries where Ultimate Software's customers have employees. HR Compliance Assist is a service exclusively available to Ultimate Software customers.

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