On October 1, the rollout of major changes to the state’s Personnel Files Act becomes official.

If I had to hazard a guess, however, I’d say that many small to mid-size companies remain unprepared for the breadth and scope of the changes.  If you haven’t focused on it yet, you’ve got a weekend to catch up.  (I’ve covered it in prior posts like this one before.)

Here are the key things you need to know now about the new law:

  • Under the new law, an employer will now have seven business days (instead of a “reasonable time”) to permit a current employee to inspect AND, if requested, a copy of his or her personnel file.
  • For former employees, an employer will now have ten business days after receiving a written request to allow that person to inspect or get a copy of his or her personnel file. Such a request must come within one year of the date of termination of that former employee. An employer can comply with this section by mailing a copy of the personnel file within the same time frame if the employer and former employee cannot agree “upon a location to conduct such inspection”.
  • A copy of any documentation of any disciplinary action must be provided to the employee within one business day after imposing such action. (If there is no such documentation to begin with, it remains unclear if anything needs to be created, but certainly if you document your “verbal warnings”, a copy of that will likely need to be provided to the employee.)
  • When an employee’s employment is terminated, the employer now has to “immediately provide an employee with a copy of any documented notice of that employee’s termination of employment.” Presumably, again, it does not require such documentation to be made (the language here isn’t as ambiguous); only that if there is such documentation, it needs to be given to the employee at the time of termination.
  • In addition, a statement in clear and conspicuous language in any documented disciplinary action, notice of termination of such employee’s employment or performance evaluation that the employee may, if he or she disagrees with it, submit a written statement explaining his or her position. That statement must be included in any personnel file.

As I’ve said before, each company may have their own take on what a “disciplinary action” means in the context of each workplace, so employers should consider consulting their preferred legal counsel for additional advice on how to comply with this law.  Of course, the law doesn’t completely override other aspects of the law too which you should familiarize yourself with. 

If you’ve been putting off this issue until you had a firm deadline, that deadline is now upon us.

Time to get to work.