All businesses have duties to keep up to date records, registers, and documents.

The following is a list of records that you are obliged to keep and maintain, and how long you need to keep them.

Records and registers that need to be kept and maintained include:

  • Employment Agreements – These must be kept and maintained, including for short term staff. Not only is this needed to comply with the Employment Relations Act to avoid a fine, it is good practice so everyone knows what is agreed.  A staff members personnel file should be kept for at least 6 years after they leave and pay records for 7 years;


  • Health and Safety – Certain injuries will require a business owner to notify Worksafe of a serious incident that arises. If a “notifiable event” occurs then written records must be kept and maintained for 5 years;


  • Asbestos – Also falling under health and safety laws is a requirement to keep records in relation to the location of and the risks associated with asbestos. Regulations under the health and safety legislation require that there be a plan to manage asbestos and a duty then to regularly review that plan.  There is no limit on the period during which the plan has to be maintained.  Rather, the requirement to regularly update the plan in itself allows for information no longer relevant to be disposed of;


  • Tax – All records which relate to tax obligations, including for GST purposes, have to be kept and maintained for 7   In this case it will be 7 years based on each “tax year” where on most occasions that will be 1 April to 31 March of the following year;


  • Companies Act Requirements – In addition to company financial statements, you also need to keep minutes and resolutions of all directors meetings, notices given to shareholders, any certificates issued by directors. A company also has to maintain a share register and a register of transactions where one or more of the directors is an interested party;


  • Privacy Laws – Most businesses collect information on their customers. While it is up to each business as to how long you retain customer information, you need to have a privacy policy which provides for how long you retain that information.  If you have a privacy policy, which would usually be on your website then you have to follow your own policy.  This means retaining information for as long as you say you will, or destroying that information when your policy provides for that;


  • Record keeping is also required to meet the requirements of the Customs and Exercise Act 2018 – Customs can require an owner, exporter, importer or manufacturer of goods to make available to Customs NZ all records and documents. The same 7 year period used for tax purposes applies.  The duties go further than keeping accounting records, and also apply to any agreement that may have been made to import or export goods;


Thankfully, the records and registers that have to be maintained can be kept electronically.  At the same time, care needs to be taken that those records are secure in terms of privacy and the risk of data being corrupted.