The purposes of this Document Retention and Destruction Policy of Pacific Environment (the “Organization”) are to (1) facilitate compliance with applicable laws; and (2) promote the appropriate treatment and maintenance of organizational documents and records.
The law requires the Organization to maintain certain types of corporate records, usually for a specified period of time. Failure to retain those records for those minimum periods could subject you and the Organization to penalties, fines, and sanctions, and otherwise seriously disadvantage the Organization.
Records should not be kept if they are no longer required by law and no longer of practical advantage to the Organization. Unnecessary records should be eliminated from the files.
If you believe, or the Organization informs you, that the Organization’s records are relevant to litigation, or potential litigation (i.e., a dispute that could result in litigation), then you must preserve those records until it is determined that the records are no longer needed. This exception supersedes any previously or subsequently established destruction schedule for those records.
From time to time, the Organization may establish retention or destruction policies or schedules for specific categories of records in order to ensure legal compliance, and also to accomplish other objectives, such as preserving intellectual property and cost management. Several categories of documents that warrant special consideration are identified below. While minimum retention periods are established, the retention of the documents identified below and of documents not included in the identified categories should be determined primarily by the application of the general guidelines affecting document retention identified above, as well as the exception for litigation relevant documents and any other pertinent factors.
- Governing Documents. Governing documents include the Organization’s articles of incorporation and bylaws. These documents should be kept permanently.
- Tax Records. Tax records include, but may not be limited to, documents concerning payroll, expenses, proof of contributions made by donors, accounting procedures, and other documents concerning the Organization’s revenues. The Organization’s applications for tax exemption (e.g., Form 1023, Form 3500), determination letters from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Franchise Tax Board (FTB), and information returns filed with the IRS and FTB (e.g., Form 990, Form 199) should be kept permanently. Generally, other tax records should be retained for at least 7 years from the date of filing the applicable return.
- Employment/Personnel Records. State and federal statutes require the Organization to keep certain recruitment, employment and personnel information. The Organization should also keep personnel files that reflect performance reviews and any complaints brought against the Organization or individual employees under applicable state and federal statutes. The Organization should also keep in the employee’s personnel file all final memoranda and correspondence reflecting performance reviews and actions taken by or against personnel. Employment applications should be retained for 3 years. Retirement and pension records should be kept permanently. Other employment and personnel records should be retained for 7 years after termination.
- Board Minutes and Materials. Board and board committee minutes should be kept permanently in the Organization’s minute book. Other board and board committee materials should be kept for no less than 3 years.
- Press Releases/Public Filings. Press releases and publicly filed documents should be kept permanently. This is recommended under the theory that the Organization should have its own copy to test the accuracy of any document alleged to be published, released, or filed by the Organization.
- Legal Files. Legal counsel should be consulted to determine the retention period of particular documents. Important legal correspondence should generally be kept permanently.
- Marketing and Sales Documents. Final copies of marketing and sales documents should generally be kept for 3 years. Sales invoices, contracts, leases, licenses, and other legal documentation should be kept for 10 years beyond the life of the agreement.
- Intellectual Property. Documents that hold intellectual property value (e.g., publications, membership lists) for the organization should generally be kept permanently as long as they still have value to the organization.
- Contracts. Final, execution copies of all contracts entered into by the Organization should generally be retained for at least 10 years beyond the life of the agreement.
- General Correspondence. General correspondence that does not otherwise fall under another category listed in this policy should generally be kept for 4 years.
- Banking and Accounting. General ledgers, cash receipts and disbursements journals, bank statements, deposit slips and checks (unless for important payments and purchases) should be kept for 10 years. Any inventories of products, materials, and supplies and any invoices should be kept for 10 years.
- Insurance. Insurance policies, insurance records, accident reports, claims, and related insurance items should be kept permanently.
- Audit Records. Audit reports should be kept permanently.
- Electronic Mail. Email that needs to be saved should be either (1) printed in hard copy and kept in the appropriate file; or (2) downloaded to a computer file and kept electronically or on an electronic storage medium (e.g., disk) as a separate file.