ESF Information Memo 07/21 - Guidance on document retention

Guidance to ESF programme 2014-2020 project promoters around the retention of documents.

Dear Project Promoter,

European Social Fund Northern Ireland logo containing text "European Union, European Social Fund, Northern Ireland"

During recent verifications of evidence of work documentation, it has come to our attention that some projects are unclear as to the specific records which must be retained until December 2030. In accordance with Article 140 of the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR), beneficiaries must ensure that all documents relating to each operation and its implementation and financing are retained until 31 December 2030.

This requirement is clearly laid out in each Project’s Letter of Offer, and applies to both timesheets and evidence of work documentation, such as calendars, emails, minutes etc (anything which will confirm that staff carried out their work on specific dates). The retention of timesheets alone is not sufficient. Timesheets are important but they only confirm the length of time staff worked on the project – they don’t confirm what they actually did.

Projects are therefore also required to have processes in place to ensure that appropriate records for staff who have left the project are securely retained until December 2030 and accessible for verification/audit purposes.

Please note that this requirement also applies to Covid-19 related activities and/or absences.

I would be grateful if you would bring the contents of this memo to the attention of your staff and/or project partners.


Annie McGowan
Head of ESF Project Delivery Branch

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