HR Management & Compliance

Short Takes: Records Access

What rights do employees have to access their personnel records?

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Employees, at reasonable times and intervals, may inspect any of their personnel files that have been used to determine their qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, termination, or other disciplinary action. Copies of employee personnel files must be kept at the workplace or made available to the employee within a reasonable time of an employee’s request.

You can ask the employee to make an appointment to view the records. Also, you don’t have to give access to records during work time. As for how often to make them available, it would be reasonable to view the records at each performance appraisal, at quarterly intervals, or if some employment-related event has occurred. But just checking every week or month would probably be unreasonable.

Employers are not required to provide employees with copies of documents in their personnel files. However, if an employer chooses to furnish copies, it may charge the employee for the reproduction cost. 

Note that employers are not required to disclose records containing information about investigations of possible criminal offenses or letters of reference.—CELA Editors