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Your Rights Personnel Files - State Law

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Each state has its own laws regarding an employee’s ability to access personnel files; only the states listed below guarantee employees a right to access their own personnel files. Employers may also have their own policies governing employee access to personnel files. Typically, employees can at least view their personnel files and take notes of the documents contained in the file.

 Listed below are the state laws regarding access to personnel files and what the employer is obligated to provide employees who request access.

Alaska
California
Connecticut
Delaware
Iowa
Maine
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Nevada
New Hampshire
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Washington
Wisconsin

Alaska

In the state of Alaska, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees and former employees are allowed to view and copy personnel files and employees may view records during regular business hours under reasonable rules. If the employer requests, then the employee pays for copies of the records.

California

In the state of California, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees have the right to inspect their files at reasonable intervals and check any personnel records relating to performance or to a grievance proceeding. Employees may view records during break or non-work hours. If the records are kept off site or the employer does not make them available at the workplace, the employee must be allowed to view them at the storage location without loss of pay. Employees have the right to copy any documents that employees have signed.

Connecticut

In the state of Connecticut, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees have the right to inspect files within a reasonable time after making a request, but not more than twice a year. A written request to check files is required. Employers must keep files of former employees for at least one year after termination. Employees may view records during regular business hours in a location at or near the worksite. Employers may require that files be viewed in the presence of employer’s designated official. Employers must provide copies within a reasonable time after receiving an employee’s written request. Request must identify the materials that the employee wants to copy. Employer may charge a fee that is based on the cost of supplying documents. If an employee disagrees with the information in the files, and cannot reach an agreement with employers to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement. The rebuttal must be maintained as part of the file.

Delaware

In the state of Delaware, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees that are current, laid off, with reemployment rights, or on leave of absence may inspect personnel records. An employee’s agent is not entitled to have access to records, unless there is reasonable cause. Employer may limit access to once a year. A written request is only required at employer’s discretion. Records may be viewed during employer’s regular business hours. Employer may require that employees view files on their own time and may also require that files be viewed on the premises and in the presence of a designated official. Employers are not required to allow employees to copy records, however, employees may take notes. If employees disagree with information in the file, and cannot reach an agreement with the employer to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement. The rebuttal must be maintained as part of the file.

Iowa

In the state of Iowa, all employers with salaried employees or commissioned salespeople are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees may have access to personnel files at a time agreed upon between employers and employees. An employer’s representative may be present. Employers may charge a copying fee for each page that is relevant to a commercial copying service fee.

Maine

In the state of Maine, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees can access records ten days within submitting a request. These include employees, former employees or authorized representatives, who all can view and copy personnel files. Employees may view records during normal business hours at the location where the files are kept, unless the employer, at its own discretion, arranges a time and place more convenient for the employee. If files are in electronic or any other non-print format, the employer must provide equipment for viewing and copying. Employees are entitled to one free copy of files during each calendar year, including any materials added to the file during that year. Employee must pay for any additional copies.

Massachusetts

In the state of Massachusetts, all employers with twenty or more employees must maintain personnel records for three years after termination. Employees or former employees must have the opportunity to review personnel files within five business days of submitting a request. The law does not apply to tenured or tenure-track employees in private colleges and universities. Employees may view their records at the workplace during normal business hours and they must be given a copy of their records within five business days of submitting a written request. If an employee disagrees with information in the file, and cannot reach an agreement with the employer to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement. Rebuttals become part of the file

Michigan

In the state of Michigan, employers with four or more employees are subject to the state personnel file law. Current or former employees are entitled to review personnel records at reasonable intervals, generally not more than twice a year, unless a collective bargaining agreement provides otherwise. Employees must describe the record(s) they request to review. They may view these records during normal office hours either at or reasonably near the worksite. If these hours would require employees to take time off of work, the employer must provide another reasonable time for review. Employees can copy files and employers may charge only actual cost of duplication. If the employee is unable to view files at the worksite, the employer, upon receipt of a written request, must mail a copy to the employee. If an employee disagrees with information in the file, and cannot reach an agreement with the employer to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement explaining his or her position. It may not be any longer that 5 8.5” x 11” pages.

Minnesota

In the state of Minnesota, all employers that have twenty or more employees are subject to the state personnel file law. Current employees may review files once every six months; former employees may have access to records once only during the first year after termination. Employers must comply with an employee’s written request within seven working days (fourteen working days if personnel records kept out of state.) Employer may not retaliate against employees who assert their rights under these laws. Current employees may view the records during normal office hours either at or reasonably near the worksite. Viewing of the files does not have to take place during employee’s working hours. Employers or representatives may be present, but it is not required. Employers must provide copies free of charge. Current employees must first review the records and then submit a written request for copies. Former employees must submit written request. Providing former employers with a copy fulfills the employer’s obligation to allow access to records. If an employee disagrees with information in the file, and cannot reach an agreement with the employer to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement identifying the disputed information and explaining his or her position. This statement may be no longer than 5 pages and must be kept with records as long as it is maintained.

Nevada

In the state of Nevada, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Any employee who has worked at least 60 days and a former employee, within 60 days of termination, must be given a reasonable opportunity to inspect personnel records. Employees may view records during employer’s normal business hours. Employers may charge only actual cost of providing access and copies. Employees may submit a reasonable written explanation in direct response to any entry in personnel record. These statements must be of reasonable length and employer may specify the format. Employers must also maintain the statement in personnel records.

New Hampshire

In the state of New Hampshire, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employers must provide employees a reasonable opportunity to inspect personnel records and may charge a fee reasonably related to cost of supplying copies. If an employee disagrees with information in the file, and cannot reach an agreement with the employer to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement along with supporting evidence. These statements must be maintained as part of personnel file.

Oregon

In the state of Oregon, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Within 45 days after receipt of a request, employers must provide employees with a reasonable opportunity to inspect personnel records used to determine qualifications for employment, promotion, or additional compensation, termination, or other disciplinary action. Employers must keep records for 60 days after termination of employee. Employees may review records at the work place or places of work assignment. Employers must provide employees, within 45 days after receipt of request, a certified copy of requested record to current employees. Former employees, if request is made within 60 days of termination, can have certified copies of requested records.

If an employee makes a request 60 days after termination, employers should provide a certified copy of requested records, if employer has the records at the time of request. The employer may charge the amount reasonably calculated to recover actual cost of providing copy.

Pennsylvania

In the state of Pennsylvania, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law.

The employer must allow the employee to inspect personnel records at reasonable times. An employee’s agent, or employee who is laid off with reemployment rights or on leave of absence, must also be given access. Unless there is reasonable cause, employers may limit the review to once a year by the employee and once a year by employee’s agent. A written request is required at the employer’s discretion and the records may be viewed during regular business hours at the office where the records are kept. Employers are not obligated to permit copying; the employee may take notes, however. The Bureau of Labor Standards may allow employees to place a counter statement into the file, after a petition hearing.

Rhode Island

In the state of Rhode Island, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees need to give employers a seven-day advance notice to access records, excluding weekends and holidays. Employers may limit access to no more than three times a year. Employees can view the records at any reasonable time, other than employee’s work hours. This inspection should take place in the presence of the employer or the employer’s representative. The employee may not make copies or remove any files from place of inspection and the employer may charge a fee reasonably related to supplying copies.

Washington

In the state of Washington, all employers are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees may have access to personnel files at least once within a reasonable time after making a request. Employees may also petition annually that the employer review all of the information in the employee’s personnel file and remove any irrelevant or incorrect information.

Wisconsin

In the state of Wisconsin, all employers who maintain personnel records are subject to the state personnel file law. Employees or former employees must have the opportunity to review personnel files within seven business days of submitting a request. Access will be permitted twice per calendar year, unless a collective bargaining agreement provides otherwise. The employer has discretion to require a written request. Current employees may view the records during normal office hours, either at the worksite or reasonably near the worksite. An employee’s right of inspection includes the right to make or receive copies. If the employer provides copies, they may charge only actual cost of reproduction. In the event that the employee disagrees with information in the file, and cannot reach an agreement with the employer to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement.