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Digital personnel file

What is a digital personnel file? What do you need to bear in mind and how can you best implement the digital personnel file?

Definition of electronic personnel file

A digital personnel file is an electronic version of the conventional personnel file that contains all relevant information about an employee in digital form. In this digital form, documents such as employment contracts, references, training documents and other personal data are stored and managed electronically and centrally. It enables quick access and easier updating of information, helps to reduce paperwork in companies and thus simplifies HR processes in employees' day-to-day work.
The digital personnel file briefly explained:

Requirements for the digital personnel file

As part of the GoBD, audit-proof storage describes the storage of digital data in terms of correctness, completeness, security, availability, traceability, immutability and access protection. These are to be understood as central requirements for audit security and are recorded in chapter three under "General requirements" of the GoBD guidelines:
The digital personnel file has become a cornerstone of modern personnel administration. With increasing digitalization and the need for efficient administration systems, companies are faced with the challenge of transferring their paper-based files to a digital environment. The requirements for such a digital personnel file are diverse and include aspects such as security, accessibility, flexibility and user-friendliness. A holistic approach to managing sensitive employee data that ensures compliance with legal regulations and data protection guidelines is essential. The digital personnel file should offer easy search, quick access to relevant information and the ability to integrate seamlessly with existing systems. Its adaptability to changing company structures and requirements is crucial to its effectiveness and long-term benefits

What are the disadvantages of paper files?

Paper files, although they have played a fundamental role in the organization and management of information for many years, have some inherent disadvantages that are increasingly coming into focus in the age of digital transformation.

Here is an overview of the disadvantages of paper files:
  • Space requirements: Paper files require physical storage space, which can lead to space problems and additional costs for archive rooms.
  • Search effort: Finding specific information in paper files can be time-consuming, especially in large archives, as there are no efficient search functions like in digital document management.
  • Updating effort: Changes or updates in paper files require manual intervention, which is less efficient and prone to errors compared to digital systems.
  • Security risks: Even though we feel more secure when we have a physical piece of paper in front of us versus a digital document, paper documents are susceptible to physical loss or damage from fire, water or other unforeseen events, which can lead to potential loss of important information.
  • Restricted access: Access to paper files is often tied to a physical location, which can limit the flexibility and speed of both information retrieval.
  • Costs : The use of paper, printers, inks and archive rooms generates additional costs for companies. The manual management of paper files can also lead to higher personnel costs.
  • Environmental impact: Paper production has an environmental impact as it consumes resources such as wood and water.
Overall, these disadvantages show that paper files can pose some challenges in terms of efficiency, security and costs compared to digital alternatives.

The document management system as the basis for the digital personnel file

Using a document management system (DMS) for digital personnel files offers several advantages over a dedicated system. By integrating all company documents into a DMS, efficiency is increased as personnel files are seamlessly linked to other documents and departments. This holistic approach enables more effective collaboration and improves work processes, as well as delivering cost savings through fewer software licenses and less training.

An effective DMS therefore forms the backbone for the management of digital personnel files in companies. The digitization and storage of all personnel documents in a DMS provides numerous benefits. The electronic capture, storage and organization of documents enable efficient management of employee data. By indexing and categorizing documents, information can be found and processed in the shortest possible time. This saves time and increases productivity when dealing with personnel files. Security also plays a decisive role. A high-quality DMS offers security measures such as access restrictions and encryption to ensure the confidentiality of sensitive personnel data. Compliance with legal regulations is another plus point. Digital storage methods help to meet legal requirements. In addition to pure storage, many DMS also offer functions for automating processes.

‍Practical tip: A digital solution such as fileee is characterized by user-friendliness and easy handling. To create a digital personnel file, you simply create a space in fileee with the respective employee name and share this space with the HR department and the employee in question, for example. The individual documents in the electronic personnel file can also be provided with various tags for a better overview. This makes it easier to search for specific documents. If you would like to know how our customer TOPP&TOPP hairdressing salon implements its personnel file, find out more here.‍

What do you need to consider when switching to a digital personnel file?

If a company wants to introduce a digital personnel file, it must be aware that such a changeover can bring with it various challenges, as companies must be very careful to act in accordance with the GDPR and the Federal Data Protection Act when processing personal data. They are obliged to obtain consent for the storage and further processing of sensitive data by means of a clause in the employment contract or a company agreement. Employees should be informedtransparently about the switch to digital files. This includes details on the new processes, data protection measures and their rights when dealing with digital personnel files. Before introducing a digital personnel file, you should therefore first ask yourself various questions to ensure a smooth transition and make sure that the needs of the company and its employees are met.
  • Have employees given their consent to the digital processing of their documents?
  • Are digitization and storage in accordance with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?
  • How are the old, paper-based employee files properly destroyed? Are data protection and environmental standards observed?
  • Has the company's internal data protection officer been informed about the planned digitization of personnel files?
  • What measures are taken to ensure that confidential data is neither lost nor made accessible to unauthorized persons?
Only by comprehensively clarifying these aspects can a smooth and legally compliant introduction of the digital personnel file take place.

Although the revised Evidence Act of August 2022 has put some obstacles in the way of the desire for a paperless office, as documents - including changes to old contracts - must be submitted in writing and signed by hand, HR department employees can rejoice: eSignatures remain valid thanks to the eIDAS Regulation. You can continue to design your HR processes, such as the onboarding of new employees including employment contracts, with 100% digital support using ThinkOwl and fileee Conversations. All legal requirements are met. You can find out more about this and how HR processes can function digitally despite the new Verification Act here.

What are the advantages of a digital personnel file?

The introduction of digital personnel files offers companies not only challenges, but also a number of benefits that can significantly increase the efficiency of HR administration :
  • Flexible access: Digital personnel files enable immediate and easy access to employee information from any location, which speeds up response times to requests. Authorized persons can also access the electronic personnel files from different devices, which promotes flexibility and mobility in everyday working life if a cloud application such as fileee is used. The decisive advantage for employees is that they have all their documents in one place and can access them from any device.
  • Space savings: By eliminating physical files and switching to digital data, the need for physical storage space is reduced, resulting in cost savings and more efficient use of space.
  • Efficient search: Search functions in document management systems enable a quick and precise search for specific information, which significantly reduces the effort required for manual searches.
  • Easy to update: Electronic personnel files are easy to update and changes can be integrated into the system quickly and easily, unlike manual updates in physical files.
  • Security controls: Digital systems allow precise control over access to sensitive employee data. Access rights can be individually defined to ensure data protection and security.
  • Archiving: Digital archiving optimizes the long-term management of employee data, offers fast access and at the same time ensures data security and compliance.
  • Environmentally friendly: Digitization reduces the need for paper and thus contributes to a more environmentally friendly office environment.

How do you digitize a personnel file?

Digitizing personnel files is an important step towards modernizing HR processes. Here are some steps that companies should follow to digitize their personnel files:

  • The digitization of personnel files first requires the selection of suitable software or a suitable document management system that meets the company's requirements and takes security standards and user-friendliness into account. Significant cost savings can be made here if a solution is chosen that can map more processes in the company than just the digital personnel file.
  • Once the selection has been made, existing physical or digital personnel files are migrated to the new system. Care must be taken to ensure that all relevant information is transferred correctly in order to maintain data integrity.
  • The implementation of security measures is crucial to ensure the confidentiality of sensitive employee data. This includes access controls, encryption and other security protocols designed to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Training for employees is another step to ensure that they can familiarize themselves with the new document management system. This training should cover aspects such as the correct use of the software, data protection regulations and other relevant guidelines.
  • The standardization of processes is important in order to facilitate the uniform recording and updating of information in digital personnel files. There should also be seamless integration with other HR systems and company applications to enable an efficient exchange of information.
  • Regular backup strategies are essential to ensure that employee data can be restored in the event of a system failure or data loss. At the same time, care must be taken to ensure that digital personnel files comply with legal requirements and data protection regulations in order to avoid legal problems.
‍Practical tip: Book a free demo appointment with fileee. You'll find out live what functions our DMS has and how you can create digital personnel files quickly and easily. Ask your questions and find out together with us which of our tariffs is suitable for your company's needs and requirements.

What data belongs in a digital personnel file?

The structure of a digital personnel file is complex and contains a wide range of information covering both personal and work-related aspects. Basically, the file begins with the employee's personal details, including name, date of birth and contact details. This is followed by all employment contracts and associated terms and conditions, which form the basis of the professional relationship. An essential part of the personnel file comprises the employee's application documents, from the CV and cover letter to relevant references and certificates. These documents not only provide an insight into the employee's professional qualifications, but also into their personal development and expertise. Another focus is on qualifications and further training, which reflect continuous development and adaptation to professional requirements. Performance appraisals and objectives document individual performance and provide information on strengths and potential for improvement. The electronic personnel file also contains information on salary and bonus structures, comprehensive data on vacation entitlements, sick leave and employment law matters. Correspondence, whether in written form, by e-mail or directly via a chat function in the employee space, as offered by fileee, completes the picture with communication between the employee and the company. Last but not least, the electronic personnel file also contains information on emergency contacts as well as data protection and consent declarations. The security measures, including access authorizations and protocols, ensure the confidentiality and integrity of the sensitive information contained in the personnel file. The structure of the digital personnel file should be intuitive and easy to navigate. It is important to ensure that authorized individuals can quickly access the information they need while ensuring data privacy and security. The use of categories and search functions can help to improve user-friendliness.

Here is an overview of all the important documents in the electronic personnel file:
  • Application documents: personal data, CV, cover letter, certificates, references and other documents submitted as part of the application.
  • Employment contract: A copy of the signed employment contract.
  • Salary and tax documents: information on salary, tax class, social security contributions and other financial aspects
  • Performance evaluations: Regular evaluations of the employee's performance, feedback and development discussions
  • Training and further education certificates: Documents that prove participation in training courses, seminars or further training measures.
  • Correspondence: All official correspondence concerning the employee, such as letters or e-mails regarding promotions, transfers or disciplinary measures.
  • Sickness and vacation records: documentation of sick leave, medical certificates and vacation requests.
  • ‍Emergency contact information: Current emergency contact information of the employee.
It is important to note that the exact content of an electronic personnel file may vary depending on the company. It is always advisable to familiarize yourself with the applicable legal provisions to ensure that the digital personnel file meets the required standards.

The digital personnel file - do original documents have to be retained?

The introduction of digital personnel files raises the question of how to store original documents. A careful archiving process is crucial to ensure the integrity and legal validity of original documents. Companies should establish clear guidelines for the secure storage of physical documents that cannot be digitized or for which an original version is required. The retention periods of the different documents in a personnel file vary by law and always depend on the type of document in question. These deadlines should be strictly adhered to, which means that original documents should not be destroyed or deleted prematurely in order to comply with legal requirements.

Audit-proof archiving of the digital personnel file

Audit-proof arch iving of digital personnel files is crucial, especially with regard to data protection regulations and legal requirements. Audit-proof archiving ensures that once stored, data remains unalterable and is subject to clear traceability and auditing.

Various aspects must be taken into account to ensure audit compliance:
  • Immutability: Once stored, it must not be possible to manipulate data. Every change should be traceable, for example through versioning or digital signatures.
  • Access control: It is important to restrict access to this data and to document who has made which changes.
  • Long-term storage: The data must be stored for a defined period of time, in accordance with legal requirements, without losing integrity.
  • Compliance with legal standards: Archiving must comply with legal requirements and industry-specific regulations.
  • Protection against data loss: Measures such as regular backups or redundant storage are necessary to prevent data loss.

Our fileeeBusiness PREMIUM, PROFESSIONAL & ENTERPRISE tariffs guarantee audit-proof archiving of all documents, including your digital personnel files, and meet the requirements of the GoBD.
Any questions?

Digital personnel file - frequently asked questions

What is a digital personnel file?
The digital personnel file is the electronic version of a conventional employee file. It contains all relevant information about an employee, such as personnel and salary data, performance appraisals, training documents and other important documents, which are stored and managed digitally.
What positive aspects does a digital personnel file offer compared to the paper form?
Digital personnel files enable quick access to information, efficient administration and a reduction in physical space requirements. They make it easier to search for documents, promote collaboration and can be easily updated and securely archived.
What data protection measures must be observed when keeping digital personnel files?
Digital personnel files require stringent data protection measures to protect the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive information. Access restrictions are crucial to ensure that only authorized employees have access according to their role. Encryption techniques protect against unauthorized access, while regular backups are essential to prevent data loss. Audit trails can be used to track activities and identify security issues. Secure transfer protocols and storage systems are also essential to ensure data confidentiality.
Can different departments in a company access the digital personnel file?
Yes, access permissions can be set accordingly to give different departments the access they need. Typically, the HR department and certain managers have access to more comprehensive information, while other departments can only access relevant and required data. This enables targeted information provision to maintain confidentiality while still supporting the workflow.
Can electronic personnel files be viewed and edited on mobile devices?
Yes, many document management systems offer mobile applications or cross-platform access that allows users to view files on their mobile devices and edit data if necessary.
How can SMEs benefit from a digital personnel file?
Companies can benefit enormously from a digital personnel file, as it enables efficient management and storage of employee data. The quick availability of information facilitates HR processes, increases productivity and enables more informed, data-driven decisions regarding personnel development, performance appraisals and resource allocation. It also promotes collaboration and improves transparency within the company by facilitating the flow of information between different departments.
What impact does the introduction of digital personnel files have on existing HR processes?
The introduction of digital personnel files optimizes HR processes by accelerating the availability of information and facilitating the management of employee data. This leads to a more efficient way of working, improved accessibility to relevant information and a reduction in physical space requirements. The flexibility in retrieving information and the ability to integrate with other HR systems also help to modernize and increase the efficiency of existing processes.
How is a digital personnel file handled after termination?
When an employee is dismissed, various guidelines apply with regard to the handling of their digital personnel file. Depending on the statutory provisions, the personnel file of a terminated employee must be retained for a certain period of time and may not be deleted immediately. The terminated employee still has a right to inspect the file within the regular limitation period of three years in accordance with Section 195 of the German Civil Code (BGB).

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