HR Record Retention Requirements

Germany - Summary Chart

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Germany


DOCUMENTS

RETENTION PERIOD
(minimum and/or maximum)

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. 32h 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. 32 BDSG

Sec. 6b (5) BDSG

Sec. 4 (3) 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 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. 199 (1) BGB

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.)

General: 6 years (including: leave requests; time off for work accidents/diseases; correspondence relating to leave connected to early retirement; parental leave related records; 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. 147 AO, 257 HGB

Injury and illness incident reports

30 years (including notification of workplace accident)

From accident

Sec. 195, 199 (2) BGB

Medical records

Medical certificates (with/without sick leave) and disability certificates: 3 years

Fit to work certificates:
3 years after end of year of medical exam

Medical certificates: 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)

Pregnant or breastfeeding employee records

2 years

From last entry

MuSchG, Section 19

Records of mandatory medical certificates documenting medical examinations of minor employees

Maximum until employee’s 18th birthday

From creation

JArbSchG, Section 41 para. 1

 

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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