By: Jay Mittelman
Let’s say tomorrow, one of your employees asks to see his or her personnel file. Do you know today whether you would answer “yes” or “no” to this request? Does the employee have a legal right to see the file? What information — if any — can you rightfully keep from him or her? Can the employee take the file from your offices? You need answers to these questions. Without them, you’ll fumble with your pen and stumble with your words while the employee patiently awaits an answer.
How to Organize Employee Personnel Files
What to Do: Find out how your state regulates access to personnel files. Then, organize employee files and allow access to records according to these guidelines:
Most state “Right-to-Know” laws require employers to provide employees with access to their personnel records. As society becomes increasingly concerned about the number of files, reports, records, tapes, and documents describing the activities of individual citizens, it’s common for employees to ask to see their work-related files.
Employers need to understand how to properly organize employee personnel files, and what information their employees are entitled to.
Right-to-know laws give employees the right to see personnel records. But these laws also prohibit employee access to certain kinds of information.
Employers are not required to disclose information regarding:
A few states do not limit privacy protection to reference letters or peer evaluations. Their statutes broadly protect “confidential information” from review.
Some states allow employees to inspect their files once or twice a year. But most laws don’t spell out how often employees can see their records. Generally, these statutes require that employees have “reasonable access” to records. Some states require that the inspection of a file occur during an employee’s free time.
There is no law that states an employee may take their personnel files out of the office. The statutes of several states expressly affirm the employer’s right to keep personnel records on the employer’s property.
Generally, an employee’s right to see a file includes the right to copy documents in the file.
If you are a New York-based employer having trouble organizing your employee personnel files, or having issues complying with right-to-know laws, a New York-based HR and Payroll company like Excelfoce may be able to help. Contact us today to see how we are already helping countless businesses stay in compliance with federal and state laws.