Employee Departure or Transfer

Issue

Departing employees often leave behind vast amounts of information, in both paper and electronic formats, without ensuring the proper disposal of it or without transferring it to an appropriate steward. This can lead to a loss of information.

Note: In this document, “employee” means anyone working for the Government of Canada (GC), including casual employees, temporary help, consultants and contractors. “Departures” may be permanent (e.g., leaving the public service or transferring to a new department) or temporary (e.g., extended leave, secondment, parental leave or language training). This guidance applies to both permanent and temporary departures.

Context

All information assets created or acquired during the course of employment with the GC, regardless of format or medium, belong to the Crown.

Departing employees are responsible for ensuring that any information resources of business value (IRBV) they have created, collected, and stored in the course of their work is organized, classified, disposed of, and/or stored in the appropriate repository for continued use and management after their departure.

It is the responsibility of each employee to determine what information is of business value and to safeguard it, and what information is transitory and to discard it.

Guidance for Employees

Employees and managers should follow their organization's departure procedures. In order to ensure that all activities have been completed prior to departure, employees and managers are encouraged to use the checklists provided in Appendices A & B of this protocol. In the absence of formal procedures, departing employees are to implement the following best practices.

  1. Review email accounts (inbox, sent, deleted, and personal folders) (see Section 1 of Appendix A):
    • IRBV must be transferred to the designated corporate repository as per the Standard on Email Management;
    • Transitory information must  be deleted; and
    • When departing employees have an “@canada.ca” email address, personal information, such as curriculum vitae and contact lists, may be left in the email account when they are transferring to another organization with “@canada.ca” email addresses. In all other instances, personal information must be deleted.
  2. Review the information holdings stored on the following (see Section 2 of Appendix A):
    • Computer hard drives;
    • Personal and shared network directories;
    • CDs, USB keys, portable hard drives, and other removable storage media; and
    • BlackBerry devices or other mobile devices.

In accordance with the Directive on Recordkeeping, any electronic material containing information of business value must be saved to a corporate repository that is accessible to other employees of the department (e.g., in an electronic document and records management system or on a shared drive) and assigned appropriate access rights.

Electronic material containing transitory information or personal information (e.g., photos, curriculum vitae) should be deleted.

All personal electronic storage locations (e.g., personal drives, hard drives) should be emptied.

  1. Review all office storage space (e.g., file cabinets, book shelves, desks). In accordance with the Directive on Recordkeeping, official paper records must be retained for ongoing operations and transferred to a manager or designate, or sent to the organization's corporate records management unit for long-term management. Paper records identified as transitory information should be disposed of (see Section 3 of Appendix A).
  2. Departing employees may want to take copies of certain information with them. Examples of information an employee can take with them when they leave include the following:
    • Their electronic contact list;
    • Their electronic calendar; and
    • Personal email messages and personal information.

      If there is doubt about what information can be released to a departing employee, managers should consult their department's information management (IM) specialists.

  3. In cases where an employee leaves suddenly and cannot organize, file, and clean-out information holdings, responsibility for those tasks falls to the employee's manager and should be carried out within 60 days.

Guidance for Institutions

  1. As part of formal departure procedures, departments should include an attestation from employees stating they have transferred all IRBV from their email account to the designated corporate repository. 
  2. Departments should ensure that employees are aware of their IM responsibilities prior to departure. Best practices for employees have been incorporated into the checklists in Appendix A.
  3. Organizations should ensure that managers are aware of their IM responsibilities in relation to departing employees.  In particular, organizations should ensure managers are aware that in cases where an employee leaves suddenly and cannot organize, file, and clean out information holdings, the responsibilities for those tasks fall to them to complete within 60 days. Best practices for managers have been incorporated into the checklists in Appendix B.
  4. Organizations should ensure that dormant and deactivated email accounts from departing employees are managed effectively, including the transfer of information of business value to a designated departmental corporate repository and appropriate disposition.  Deactivated accounts should be deleted as soon as possible once all information of business value has been transferred to a corporate repository.

Further Information

A departure checklist for employees is available in Appendix A, while Appendix B includes a checklist for managers to complete upon an employee's departure or transfer.

Information Management Division
Chief Information Officer Branch
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
8th Floor, 270 Albert Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0R5

Email: im-gi@tbs-sct.gc.ca
Toll-free: 1-877-636-0656
Fax: 613-946-9342
TTY: 613-957-9090 (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)

Appendix A

Employee Departure or Transfer

IM Checklist for Employees

Before you leave, you should do the following:

  1. Email
    • Review all email folders (e.g., inbox, sent, deleted, and personal folders) and email archives (e.g., e-vault and personal storage files).
    • Transfer all email messages containing information of business value to the designated corporate repository.
    • Delete transitory email messages.
    • Confirm cleanup of your email account with your manager to ensure that no departmental information remains in your email account.
  2. Electronic Documents
    • Review all electronic storage locations (e.g., local drives, network directories, USB keys, laptops).
    • Ensure that all information resources of business value (documents, email, instant messages, datasets, maps, photographs, videos, etc.) are transferred to the appropriate corporate repository.
    • Ensure that access rights are appropriately assigned for all documents in the corporate repository.
    • Assign a trustee for continued management of documents transferred to the corporate repository. See your manager for direction on choosing a trustee.
    • Remove password protection on electronic information or give your passwords to your manager.
    • Delete transitory information.
    • Remove all personal information (e.g., curriculum vitae, contact lists).
    • Obtain approval for all information that you want to take with you.
    • Empty all personal electronic storage locations.
    • Confirm cleanup of your electronic information with your manager.
  3. Paper Documents
    • Review all paper documents.
    • Ensure that all information resources of business value (documents, books, maps, photographs, etc.) for ongoing operations are transferred to your supervising manager or designate for continued management.
    • Dispose of all transitory information.
    • Remove all personal information (e.g., curriculum vitae, photos) from your office.
    • Obtain approval for all information that you want to take with you.
    • Return all material borrowed from departmental libraries or from the Records Management Unit.

Appendix B

Employee Departure or Transfer

IM Checklist for Managers

Before an employee's departure (or immediately following an unexpected departure), managers should ensure that the following activities have been completed.

  • Ensure employees are aware of their IM responsibilities prior to departure.
  1. Email
    • Confirm that all information in the employee's email folders (e.g., inbox, sent, deleted, personal and archive folders) has been reviewed.
    • Confirm that all email messages containing information of business value have been transferred to the appropriate corporate repository.
    • Confirm that all transitory email messages have been deleted.
    • Review and approve the employee's retention of any information remaining in the email account (e.g., personal email messages, contact lists).
  2. Electronic Documents
    • Confirm that all information stored on electronic devices (e.g., local drives, network directories, USB keys, laptops) has been reviewed.
    • Confirm that all information resources of business value have been transferred to the appropriate corporate repository.
    • Confirm that access rights have been appropriately assigned for all of the employee's electronic documents in the corporate repository.
    • Confirm that a trustee has been assigned for continued management of the employee's electronic documents in the corporate repository.
    • Confirm that all transitory information has been deleted.
    • Review and approve any information that the employee wants to retain.
    • Confirm that all personal electronic storage locations have been emptied.
  3. Paper Documents
    • Confirm that all of the employee's paper documents have been reviewed.
    • Confirm that all information resources of business value for ongoing operations have been transferred to the manager or designate for continued management.
    • Confirm that all transitory information has been disposed of.
    • Review and approve information that the employee wants to retain.
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