- Purpose & Scope:
This Policy outlines the systematic review, retention, and destruction of
Records received or created at West Virginia University, including West Virginia
University Institute of Technology and Potomac State College of West Virginia
University (collectively the “University”).
- The Policy is designed to ensure compliance with federal and state laws and regulations, to eliminate accidental or innocent destruction of Records, and to facilitate University operations by promoting efficiency and reducing unnecessary storage of records.
- Scope. This Policy applies to all University Records and to all University employees.
- Purpose. This Policy outlines the systematic review, retention, and destruction of Records received or created at West Virginia University, including West Virginia University Institute of Technology and Potomac State College of West Virginia University (collectively the “University”).
- Types of Records, University Retention Schedule, Electronic Records, and Official
Types of Records.
Not all Records created by University constitute Retainable Records that must be
retained for certain periods of time. Rather, only Retainable Records
must be kept.
- Generally, a Record is anything that contains information regarding the University made or received in connection with its operations regardless of whether it is a hard copy or electronic, and includes, but is not limited to, written and printed matter, books, drawings, maps, plans, photographs, microforms, motion picture films, sound and video recordings, e-mails, computerized or other electronic data on hard drives or network drives, or copies of these items.
For purposes of this Policy, there are two sub-types of Records: Incidental Records
and Retainable Records.
- Retainable Record: Any Record that is contained within the University Retention Schedule or is otherwise required by law to be retained by a Unit.
- Incidental Records: Any Records not contained within the University Retention Schedule or otherwise required by law to be retained by a Unit. Examples include routine communications, internal meeting notices, cover letters or transmittal memoranda, drafts, notes, and duplicate copies of Retainable Records that are not being stored in the official location or with the official custodian. Incidental Records need be retained only so long as is necessary to complete the action or resolve the issue that is the subject of the record.
- If there are any questions about whether an item is considered a Record or whether a Record is Retainable or Incidental, please contact the Office of General Counsel.
- Not all Records created by University constitute Retainable Records that must be retained for certain periods of time. Rather, only Retainable Records must be kept.
University Retention Schedule.
- The University Retention Schedule, Exhibit A to this Policy, details all Retainable Records that must be retained for the specified periods of time necessary to satisfy the University’s business and legal obligations as well as to preserve the University’s history. All Records (whether Retainable and Incidental) must be retained and/or disposed of in accordance with this Policy and the University Retention Schedule.
- Each Unit is responsible for ensuring that its faculty and staff follow the Policy and the University Retention Schedule. Individual Units may have an employee that manages the destruction of all Records for that Unit.
- Although certain Retainable Records may require a shorter or longer period of time for retention, as indicated in the University Retention Schedule, as a general rule, most Retainable Records should be retained for five years. For Retainable Records involving minors, the retention period should be the amount of time until the minor reaches the age of eighteen and then the normal retention period.
- To the extent a Unit possesses a category of Retainable Records not set forth in the University Retention Schedule, an individual Unit should contact the Office of General Counsel to determine whether supplementation of the University Retention Schedule is necessary.
E-mail and Other Electronic Records.
- Units have an obligation to preserve and safeguard information in e-mail and other electronic records that constitute Retainable Records.
If e-mail or other electronic records constitute the Retainable Record, then those
emails or other electronic records must be retained and then destroyed
in accordance with the retention periods set forth in the University Retention Schedule.
- Unless specifically provided in the University Retention Schedule, email and other electronic records should not be kept permanently.
- E-mails or other electronic records can be retained in hard copy, by electronic archive, or in removable storage devices. Once the e-mail or electronic record is saved in another format, however, there is no obligation additionally to retain it in multiple forms, unless it is subject to a Litigation Hold, in which case all forms must be retained.
- While not all e-mails and other electronic records are Retainable Records, all University e-mails and other electronic records are property of the University and may be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests and discovery in the event of litigation or other proceedings involving the University.
Official Document Custodians.
- The University Retention Schedule identifies specific Units that serve as the Official Document Custodian for certain categories of Retainable Records.
- Another Unit, i.e., one that is not listed as the Official Document Custodian, may keep courtesy copies of these records as long as necessary for that Unit to address a transaction or issue. However, that Unit should not keep courtesy copies of records longer than two years after the transaction or issue has been completed.
- All Units have a duty to ensure that any records contained in the courtesy copy are provided to the Official Document Custodian and that the courtesy copy does not contain any Records different than those maintained by the Official Document Custodian.
- Types of Records.
Storage and Destruction of Records.
Accessibility and Safekeeping of Records.
- Units are responsible for ensuring that all Records (whether Retainable or Incidental) are secured in a way to provide appropriate confidentiality and protection from unauthorized inspection, theft, and/or physical damage. Each Unit should assess the risks of damage or destruction to its Records in storage areas and promulgate a retention strategy as needed.
- All Records must be easily retrievable for examination by authorized individuals, including auditors and the Freedom of Information Act Office.
- Each Unit shall comply with the Electronic File Storage and Back-Up policies as set out by Information Technology Services (ITS), which can be found at: https://oit.wvu.edu/standards/. Units should work with the ITS to ensure that electronic records are maintained in a format that preserves accessibility.
- If a Unit needs assistance in developing measures to protect the confidentiality and unauthorized inspection of records, the Unit should contact the University’s Chief Information Security and Privacy Officer.
Destruction of Records.
- Each Unit is responsible for periodically ensuring the destruction of all Incidental Records and Retainable Records that have reached the end of their retention period. Retainable Records that have been identified as permanent records must be permanently retained in a designated storage area and/or archived.
Regardless of whether a Record is Retainable or Incidental, it should be appropriately
destroyed at the applicable period of time. Acceptable destruction methods
- Recycling: Generally appropriate for all paper Records that do not contain personal, certain financial, or confidential information. Examples include public records of other organizations, magazines, annual reports, newsletters, and announcements.
- Secure destruction: Using a shredder or shredder service for all Records that contain personal, financial, or confidential information. This includes, but is not limited to, all Records that contain attorney-client communications, student education records, health-related information, and certain financial information.
- Each Unit should consult with ITS regarding the destruction of electronic records.
- The University may have the obligation to preserve all Records that might be implicated in litigation, an investigation, or other proceeding.
In such an event, the Office of General Counsel will issue a Litigation Hold to notify
the specific Units and their employees that they must preserve all their
Records (including Retainable and Incidental Records) relating to a specific
- This includes any email or electronic records. Email and Electronic information should be preserved in its original electronic form.
- If a Litigation Hold is issued, destruction of all Records (including Retainable and Incidental Records) related to those matters that are the subject of the Hold must immediately stop.
- The employee or Unit that receives a Litigation Hold is obliged to preserve such information effective immediately and, if applicable, notify faculty and staff of the obligation to preserve records.
- In addition, the employee or Unit that receives a Litigation Hold shall similarly preserve any new information that is generated that may be relevant to the litigation, investigation, or other proceeding
- If an employee fails to preserve Records in accordance with a Litigation Hold, that employee may be subject to discipline.
- Records that are subject to a litigation hold shall not be destroyed until the litigation hold is lifted by the General Counsel’s Office.
There are several defined terms used within the University Retention Schedule. These terms have the following mean:
- ACA – Health and Basic Life Insurance Documentation: This includes all enrollment forms, required documentation for ACA (birth certificate, adoption decrees, etc.), relevant communications with employees; communications with Benefits Billing; and relevant payroll spreadsheets.
- Child Care Assistance Program Files: This includes applications with copies of tax forms, copies of letters for approval or denial, monthly receipts from child care providers, correspondence with providers and employees, and monthly balancing reports.
- Faculty Promotion, Tenure, and Evaluation File: Subject to the applicable promotion and tenure guidelines and Board of Governors policies, this includes appointment letters, curriculum vitae and bibliography, record of classes since appointment or last promotion, primary supervisor/home department review, past evaluations and written responses, additional information by chair/dean along with written response from employee, pertinent information from faculty members about performance, chronological inventory, professional development, sabbatical, phased retirement, critical year extension/change, salary enhancement, leave of absence, and administrative reviews not otherwise part of the file.
- Medical Management Documentation: This includes Medical Leave Files, including medical leave documentation, modified duty documentation, FMLA documentation; Catastrophic Leave Files, including applications, medical verification, and donor forms; Maternity Leave Files, including medical verification; Disability Files, including applications, correspondence, other documentation and information contained within the extended disability database; 9 Month Faculty File, including medical verification and correspondence; Workers Compensation Files, including injury documentation, medical verification, and correspondence; and documentation regarding unemployment compensation claims.
- Official Procurement File: This file will contain the basis on which the award was made, which may include all submitted bids and proposals and all materials related to or prepared in conjunction with evaluation, negotiation and the award process in accordance with procurement rules.
- Personnel File – Benefits Administration: This includes all general benefits information, including insurance enrollment forms, change-in-status forms, copies of supporting documentation for dependents (marriage certificates, birth certificates, Visas, etc.), copies of supporting documentation for qualifying events, and appeals; disability information (non-HIPAA); retirement information, including retirement database information, CPRB reporting, and relevant correspondence; internal Benefits Administration Forms (Employee Benefits Summary, Authorization for Release of Information); paper refund requests; medical separation documentation; general leave information, including leave extensions, personal leave applications, parental leave applications (non-medical), leave information for employee verification, leave audit information, sick leave buyback, and jury duty documentation; benefit reinstatement document; and information contained within Employee absenteeism database.
- Personnel File – General Employment Information: This includes employment application and supporting documentation; resumes; offer letters; notices of appointments; letters of resignation; documentation regarding termination; notices of non-renewals and information contained within the non-renewal database; agreements related to pay or classification; employment contracts; compensation evaluation records; job description or PIQ documentation; assignment forms; exit interview forms and information contained within the exit interview database; and employee acknowledgment forms of policies, procedures.
- Personnel File – Performance: This includes self-identification documentation, background check documentation; reference check documentation; confidentiality certifications; copies of job-required certificates and licenses; drug testing records; and performance evaluations or other reviews.
- Personnel File – Years of Service: This includes all documents pertaining to years of service verification forms (green sheets), initial years of service calculation forms (hard copy and electronic), supporting documentation on years of service, copies of archived files (with other employee names and social security numbers redacted), outside agency verification forms from other WV agencies, and years of service re-verification documents.
- This Policy supersedes all other record retention guidelines and schedules at the University to the extent those guidelines and schedules are inconsistent with this Policy.