Whether in the home or at the office, storage space is always at a premium. Even in this digital age, a mountain of paperwork can still develop very quickly, much of which you’ll want to keep and some, such as company accounts you must keep by law.
How long you retain your books and records for, varies depending on exactly what they are and what type of business you run. PAYE records only need be kept for 3 years after the tax year they relate to but other documents, such as sealed contracts must be legally kept on file for 12 years and items such as employer’s liability insurance certificates, should never be discarded - even if that means storing them for 40 or more years. As tempting as it might be to simply ‘file’ everything in a carrier bag under your desk, the potential £3000 fine for not keeping proper accounting records means it’s not generally a wise decision. If you’re in any doubt, it’s advisable to keep all records and accounts that are submitted to HMRC for at least 6 years.
Simply knowing that you have a specific document, receipt or certificate ’somewhere’ won’t help when you’re required to find it. Developing a system that allows you to quickly and easily track something down, can remove a lot of the stress from the day to day running of any business. An efficient system can also help reduce overheads and increase staff productivity. However, the question still remains - where and how do you keep it all, when storage space is a precious commodity?
Perhaps the most sensible answer to that question is, archive storage boxes and racking. With space at a premium, the use of racking allows up to a five fold increase in storage capacity for a given floor space. The boxes provide a safe and easily accessible home for all your companies important paperwork. With an archive framework in place, you can now implement an easy to use, four stage document management system.
- Archive - Information which has long-term historical value but which is very rarely required; Maps, drawings, expired insurance policies, etc.
- Semi-archive - Documents which are not regularly used but must be kept for legal reasons; Previous years accounts, tax returns, etc.
- Retrievable - Information that’s required frequently; Current invoices, bank statements, etc.
- Disposable - Items with short-term value that can be shredded before recycling such as delivery notes.
Once implemented, a system like that outlined above, should reduce the amount of time spent dealing with paperwork considerably. It will help keep you compliant with HMRC and prevent loss or damage to documents which could have a dramatic, negative impact on your business.
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