HRMS Offboarding: Security, Strategy & Compliance

Offboarding is one of those slightly niggling HR terms that sounds made up for the sake of it. Maybe it’s just me, but can’t we just say “leaving”? Well, putting aside my irritation, let’s define it. Offboarding is what happens when somebody retires, quits, is dismissed, or is deceased. Just as there are some key HRMS tasks and functions when somebody joins the organisation there are similar issues when they leave. However, whereas onboarding (joining the company) tends to be a more straightforward inputting of details, HRMS offboarding is not as simple as just deleting the records.


Even though the individual no longer works for you, you’ll still need some of that information to hand – whether it be a record of their exit interview, social security benefit data, or for post-employment payments. The key HRMS offboarding functions that tend to come into play are basic records management, attendance management (for leave and absence records), and of course, compensation management linking to redundancy payments, pensions and so forth.


In the U.S. there are compliance issues around maintaining 401(k) pension plan payment data or COBRA health plan details, both for records purposes and for transfer of benefits to the individual’s new employer.

Data Security

There are also data protection issues around HRMS offboarding. You are keeping information in your database about an individual who is no longer employed by you and are responsible for its security. Some of that data will be especially sensitive – such as payroll and compensation, which you’ll need for management information reporting for some time after the person’s departure – and the system must keep that data ‘separate but available’. Depending on what use you make of HR analytics, you may be linking compensation data for ex-employees into metrics related to staff turnover, payroll costs, and so on. To further complicate matters, your recruitment team or manager may need to access the data if a former employee is applying to be rehired at a later date.

Finally, this issue of retaining key data has to be set against the need to effectively remove the individual from the records as a member of staff, including shutting down their access rights to IT systems and buildings – this is why HRMS offboarding can be a tricky balancing act. When you factor in the similar changes that must be processed when somebody remains with the company in an alternate role (with different access rights, compensation, etc.), you can see why most experts recommend the process be fully automated, usually via the HRMS.

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall