Email Management

Email is an important business tool at the University of New Brunswick and many of the email messages that are created and received constitute records because they document information about the business operations of UNB. It is not the format of a record that is important but its content. Gmail records are just another format for information sharing.

So, along with other types of information, you must manage email messages, which fall under the definition of records, with consideration for the University's business and accountability record keeping requirements.

Of course, everyone knows to not open an email or follow a link source you do not recognize or trust, stuff like that is pretty basic email 101. This section is based around what makes an email a record and how to appropriately handle them.

Identification of email records

Email records are any messages created, sent or received within an email system that are required by the University to control, support, or document the delivery of programs, to carry out operations, to make decisions, or to account for activities. So pretty much any email you send while at work.

Examples of email records with content to be retained

  • Messages that reflect the position or business of the University or department
  • Messages that initiate, authorize or complete a business transaction
  • Messages received from external sources that form part of an official record
  • Copies containing more or less information than the original record
  • Original messages of policies or directives, where the information does not exist in another form
  • Messages related to work schedules and assignments
  • Agenda and minutes of meetings
  • Briefing notes, final reports and recommendations

Examples of email records that may not need to be retained

Transitory email records are records required only for a limited time to ensure the completion of a routine action or the preparation of a subsequent record and may include:

  • Messages that are duplicate copies of information used only for convenience of reference and not as the official record
  • Informal messages or rough drafts not required as evidence in the development of a document
  • Miscellaneous notices of employee meetings, holidays, etc.
  • Emails that result from personal use of the official electronic messaging system or messages in a form used for casual communication

Who is responsible for filing email?

If you are the originator or creator of a message, it is YOUR responsibility to ensure it is kept and filed.

If you are the primary recipient of an email message from an external source outside UNB, or the record doesn't exist elsewhere in your department, then YOU must keep it and file it.

Three important rules to remember when you are the originator of an email messages:

  1. If you have created an email message for response from one or several recipients, you must ensure that the original text and all responses that form the complete email record are retained.
  2. If there is an ongoing email exchange you should use your own judgement to determine at what stages in the discussion a copy of the email should be captured as an official record. This judgement needs to be based on the significance of new information in an email response to a previous message.
  3. If you add information to an email record you receive, it is considered as a new original and you must keep and manage it.

 

Creating and addressing emails

Good practice in managing emails with their creation and addressing. The recommended guidelines are as follows:

  • Create descriptive and meaningful subject lines when your messages and include dates, time and locations when practical
  • Keep personal communications within the UNB email system to a minimum
  • Prepare email messages with the expectation that they will be viewed by a third party at a later date
  • Use a professional tone when preparing an email message and avoid unnecessary personal comments
  • Limit the content of the message to a single topic to keep filing simpler; start a fresh message to address a different issue

It is in your best interest to not use your UNB email account for personal correspondence or include content in an email that you would never include in a formal letter or memo.

You should keep personal information within email messages to a minimum. Email messages could be inadvertently sent to an unanticipated recipient.


Emails are obviously very important to business operations and their role as records may be more prominent than a lot of people realize. But what do you do when a record is no longer needed? The Destruction of Records is the next topic and will help clarify when you can get rid of records.