FAQ: What do you do with a separated employee’s emails?

What do you do with a separated employee’s emails?

 

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When an employee leaves or is separated from the agency, you probably have a checklist of things that need to be done in order to close everything out for them. Hopefully, one of those things includes reviewing and transferring emails and if it doesn’t, it needs to! I recently attended a conference where one of the speakers admitted that although reviewing separated employees emails was on their checklist, it was routinely not getting done and as a result, they had a backlog of almost 3 TB of data that no one knew what to do with. Here are some steps to take to make sure that cautionary tale doesn’t come true for you.

  1. If possible, ask employees to review their email before separation.
  • The employee knows their own email the best, so if possible, make time for them to review their email and sort it into folders based on retention. The process will be much easier if employees manage their emails with retention in mind already – check out some of our webinars on email management for more details.
  • If a shared drive is available, you can set up a designated folder for their more important emails that others might need access to in order to continue operations. If a shared drive is not available, have them forward any emails of ongoing business value to their manager or the person who will be assuming their duties.
  • Make sure that the employee knows that all emails that are left behind on their server are subject to further review. Many governments and agencies choose to either transfer the server to the custody of a manager or the IT department upon separation.
  1. If employee does not review emails before separation, someone familiar with the business practices and retention should review their emails in a timely fashion.

 

If the employee does not review their emails before separation, someone else has to!

If the employee does not review their emails before separation, someone else has to!

 

  • If the separation happens suddenly or before the employee has time to review their emails properly, this must be done by someone shortly after the separation to ensure that any emails important to business continuity are harvested. It’s best if a manager or someone familiar with the work that the separated employee did performs this task.
  1. All emails are still subject to the same retention periods even if the employee has left your government or agency.
    • This is a FAQ around here and the answer is always: “It’s still a record even if the employee leaves!” You must assign a new custodian for those records for the rest of their required retention. You absolutely may not do this (no matter how you want to):
Don't just delete without review! Those emails are still subject to retention.

Don’t just delete without review! Those emails are still subject to retention.

  • This also means that for as long as you are in possession of the emails, they are still subject to PIA requests and litigation and must be produced. If there is any pending appeal over the termination of an employee, all emails from that employee must be retained until the appeal is resolved.
  1. Have a plan for migration of email servers.
    • Once the emails have been reviewed, have a plan for where they are going to live for the rest of their retention. Many agencies have a dedicated cloud server to keep these retired email servers until they’ve met retention and others choose to transfer the email server into the manager’s custody. This is something that your IT department can provide guidance on for what is possible for your agency.

Need more help with organizing the emails and deciding what retention applies to what email? We can help with that! Try out our free webinars on email management or contact your analyst with questions.