A few weeks ago, I covered the basics of personnel files, in response to an article on whether there was a "crisis" in personnel file litigation. But a few questions remain, so consider this the third part in a trilogy about personnel files. In other words, once you determine what is and isn’t supposed to be in a file, what are the action items for those files?
Remember, each employer is unique so employers should always check with an attorney about implementation of any rule to ensure compliance with the laws that may apply. Connecticut’s law on personnel file can be found at Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 31-128a.
- Can Employees Review and/or Copy Their Personnel File?
- Employers must "within a reasonable time after receipt of a written request from an employee, permit such employee to inspect his personnel file….Such inspection shall take place during regular business hours at a location at or reasonably near the employee’s place of employment."
- An employer is not required to allow such an inspection more than twice in any calendar year.
- An employee has a right to a copy of his/her personnel file, although the employer may charge a reasonable fee for copying it. If an employer charges a fee for copying, it should do so consistently.
- What if the Employee Disagrees with the Information in the Personnel File?
- The law provides that an employee who disagrees with any information contained in a personnel file may, with the employer’s permission, remove or correct the information. If the employee and employer cannot agree on removal or correction, then the employee can submit a written statement explaining his position and that statement must then become part of the personnel file. The employer is NOT required to remove any aspect of a personnel file simply because the employee requests it.
- How Long Must You Keep Personnel Files?
- Personnel Files must be kept a minimum of one year following termination.
- Medical files must be kept for at least three years following termination.
- Given the confidential nature of information in personnel and medical files, such files should be kept in a secure location (i.e., a locked file cabinet).
- Beware, however. There may be situations where a personnel file must be kept longer, such as when there is a "litigation hold" on such personnel files.
- What Else Should You Know About Personnel Files?
- Consider doing an audit of existing personnel files to ensure compliance. In that review, a company can check for offer letters, can separate out I-9 forms, etc.
- Always remember to keep medical and personnel information separate
- Before producing a personnel file, the employer should review it to ensure its accuracy.
- Personnel files can be stored electronically; the idea of a "paper file" may be antiquated for some employers.