Jun 20, 2023

The State Laws for Access to Your Personnel Files

The State Laws for Access to Your Personnel Files

If you are employed in the United States, it is important for you to understand your rights when it comes to accessing your personnel files. An employee personnel file is either a paper or electronic record of a current or past employee's history with an employer. Within the file, employers can find an employee's job-related documents with information associated with an employee's performance, knowledge, skills, abilities, and behavior. In the United States, there are no federal laws that grant employees the right to inspect their personnel files; however, every state does have its own laws regarding employees' ability to access them. 

Below we have provided a list of the state and the laws surrounding employee access to personnel files and what employers are obligated to provide if and when their employees request access to their files. For more information regarding your state's laws, you can always contact an attorney to learn more.

 

Alaska: Alaska Stat. § 23.10.430

  • Employers affected: All employers are affected.
  • Employee access to records: Employee or former employee may view and copy personnel files.
  • Conditions for viewing records: Employees may view records during regular business hours under reasonable rules.
  • Copying records: The employer can request the employee pays the reasonable cost of duplication.

 

California: Cal. Lab. Code §§ 1198.5; 432

  • Employers affected: All employers who are subject to hours and wages.
  • Employee access to records: An employee or former employee has the right to inspect personnel records relating to performance or a grievance proceeding within 30 days of making a written request for records.
  • The employer can redact the names of nonmanagerial employees and does not need to comply with more than one request per year from a former employee. If a lawsuit is filed against the employer that relates to a personal matter, the right to view the personnel files are halted while the suit is pending.
  • Conditions for viewing records: Employees may view the records during breaks or non-work hours. If the records are kept off-site, or the employer does not make them accessible in the workplace, employees must be allowed to view them where they are kept without loss of pay. If a former employee was terminated for harassment or workplace violence, the employer may provide a copy of the records or make them available off-site.
  • Copying records: An employee or former employee also has a right to copy personnel records at the employee's cost.
  • Written request required: Yes. Employees who make oral requests to view their personnel files must complete a form (provided by the employer) as a written request. 

 

Connecticut: Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 31-128a to 31-128h

  • Employers affected: All employers are affected.
  • Employee access to records: Employees have the right to inspect files within seven days after making a request, but not more than twice a year. A former employee can review personnel files within ten business days after making a request. Employers must keep former employees' files for at least one year after termination. 
  • Conditions for viewing records: Employees may view the files during regular business hours at or near the worksite. Employers may require that files are viewed in the presence of the employer's designated official. 
  • Copying records: Employees are entitled to request a copy of their files. Their request must identify the materials that the employee wants to copy. Employers must provide copies within a reasonable time after receiving an employee's written request. Employees are also entitled to a copy of any disciplinary action against the employee within one business day after it is imposed. Employers may charge a fee based on the cost of supplying documents. 
  • Written request required: A written request to check files is required.


 

Delaware: Del. Code Ann. tit. 19, §§ 730 to 735

  • Employers affected:  All employers are affected.
  • Employee access to records: Current employees, employees who are laid off with reemployment rights, or employees on leave of absence may review personnel records. However, the employee's agent is not entitled to access the records, and the employer may also only allow access to the records once a year.
  • Written request required: An employer may require an employee to file a form and indicate the purpose of the review or what parts of the record employee wants to inspect.
  • Conditions for viewing records: Personnel files may be viewed during the employer's regular business hours. The employer can require that the employee views the files on their own time and require they are viewed 
  • on the premises and in the presence of a designated official. 
  • Copying records: An employer is not required to permit employees to copy files–an employee can take notes of their file.
  • Employee's right to insert rebuttal: In the case that the employee does not agree with the information found in the personnel file and cannot reach an agreement with the employer to correct or remove the information, the employee may submit a rebuttal– which must be maintained as part of the personnel file.

 

Illinois: 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 40/1 to 40/12

  • Employers affected: Employers with five or more employees. 
  • Employee access to records: Current or former employees terminated within the last year are eligible to inspect their records twice a year at reasonable intervals–unless a collective bargaining agreement provides otherwise. Employers must make the records available within seven business days after the employee requests. Employees involved in a current grievance may designate a representative of the union or collective bargaining unit or other agents to inspect personnel records relevant to resolving the grievance. 
  • Conditions for viewing records: Records may be viewed during regular business hours at or near the worksite or, at the employer's discretion, during nonworking hours at a different location if more convenient for the employee. 
  • Copying records: The employee may receive a copy, and the employer may only charge for the actual cost of creating the copy. 
  • Written request required: Employers may require a written request. 
  • Employee's right to insert rebuttal: If an employee disagrees with any information on the personnel file and cannot agree with the employer to remove or correct it, the employee may submit a rebuttal. Any rebuttals made must remain in file with no additional comment by the employer.

 

Iowa: Iowa Code §§ 91A.2, 91B.1

  • Employers affected: Employers with salaried employees or commissioned salespeople. 
  • Employee access to records: Employees may have access to personnel files at a time agreed upon between employers and employees.
  • Conditions for viewing records: The employer's representative can be present during the review. 
  • Copying records: Employees are allowed copies of the files, and employers may charge a copying fee for each page relevant to a commercial copying service fee.

 

Maine: Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 26, § 631

  • Employers affected: All employers are affected.
  • Employee access to records: Employees can access records for ten days after submitting a request. These include employees, former employees, or authorized representatives, who all can view and copy personnel files. 
  • Conditions for viewing records: 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. 
  • Copying records:  Employees are entitled to one free copy of files during each calendar year, including any materials added to the file during that year. The employee must pay for any additional copies.
  • Written request required: Yes.

 

Massachusetts: Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, § 52C

  • Employers affected: Employers with twenty or more employees.
  • Employee access to records: Employees or former employees must have the opportunity to review personnel files within five business days of submitting a request. Employers must maintain personnel records for up to three years after termination. 
  • Conditions for viewing records: Employees may view their records at the workplace during regular business hours, and they must be given a copy of their records within five business days of submitting a written request. An employer can limit the employee reviewing the personnel record to no more than two separate occasions in a calendar year.
  • Written request required: Yes. 
  • Copying records:  An employee will be given a copy of the employee's personnel record within five business days of a submitted request.
  • Employee's right to insert rebuttal: If an employee disagrees with information in the file and cannot come to an agreement with the employer to remove or correct the information, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement. The rebuttals will then become part of the file.

 

Michigan: Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 423.501 to 423.505

  • Employers affected: Employers with four or more employees.
  • Employee access to records:  Current and former employees are able to review personnel no more than twice a year unless a collective bargaining agreement provides otherwise. 
  • Conditions for viewing records: Employees can view the records during regular office hours at or near the worksite. Employers must provide other reasonable times for review if the hours require employees to take time off work. If the employee cannot review the files at the workplace, the employer, on request, must mail the employee a copy. 
  • Copying records: Employees may copy files, and employers may charge only the actual cost of duplication. 
  • Written request required: Yes. Employees must describe what records they request to review in writing.
  • Employee's right to insert rebuttal:  If an employee disagrees with the information in the file and cannot reach an agreement with the employer to remove or correct the information, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement. The statement can not exceed "5 8.5" x 11" pages.

 

Minnesota: Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 181.960 to 181.966

  • Employers affected: All employers that have twenty or more employees are affected. 
  • Employee access to records: Current employees may review their file once every six months, while former employees only have access to the file once within the first year of their termination. Employers must comply and provide the record within seven working days or 14 working days if the records are kept out of state.
  • Conditions for viewing records: Current employees are eligible to review the file during regular office hours, at or near the workplace. File viewing is not required to take place during the employee's work hours. The employer or their representative may be present during the review but are not required. Employers cannot retaliate against an employee who chooses to review their file. 
  • Copying records: Employers must provide copies free of charge. However, the employee must first review the file before requesting a copy. 
  • Written request required: Both current and former employees must submit a written request.
  • Employee's right to rebuttal: 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 their position. This statement cannot exceed 5 pages and must be kept with records so long as it is maintained.

 

Nevada: Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 613.075

  • Employers affected: All employers are affected.
  • Employee access to records: Any employees who have worked for at least 60 days must be given a reasonable opportunity to inspect personnel records. Former employees, within 60 days of termination, must also be provided with a reasonable opportunity to inspect personnel records.
  • Conditions for viewing records: Employees may view records during the employer’s regular business hours. 
  • Copying records: Employers may only charge the actual cost of providing access and copies. 
  • Employee's right to rebuttal: Employees are eligible to submit reasonable written explanations in response to any entries in their personnel records. Employers may request the entries be of reasonable length and format. Employers must maintain the statement in personnel records.

 

New Hampshire: N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 275:56

  • Employers affected: All employers are affected.
  • Employee access to records: Employers must provide employees with a reasonable opportunity to inspect personnel.
  • Copying records: Employer may charge a fee for the reasonably related costs of supplying copies.
  • Employee's right to insert rebuttal:  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 the personnel file.

 

Oregon: Or. Rev. Stat. § 652.750

  • Employers affected: All employers are affected.
  • Employee access to records: Employers must provide employees with a reasonable opportunity to inspect personnel records within 45 days of receiving a request. The employers must keep records for 60 days after the termination of an employee. 
  • Conditions for viewing records: Employees may view the file at the worksite or place of work assignment.
  • Copying records: Within 45 days after receipt of the request, employers must provide a certified copy of the requested record to any current or terminated(within 60 days)employees. If a request is made more than 60 days after termination, employers shall provide a certified copy of the requested records if they have the records. An employer may charge a reasonable amount to recover the actual cost of providing a copy.
  • Written request required: Yes.

 

Pennsylvania: 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 1321 to 1324

  • Employers affected: All employers are affected.
  • Employee access to records: The employer must allow the employee to inspect personnel records at any reasonable time. An employee's agent, or any past employees with reemployment rights or on leave of absence, must also be given access. Unless there is reasonable cause, employers may limit employees and their agents to reviewing the files only once a year. 
  • Conditions for viewing records: Employees may view the files during regular business hours, where records are maintained, and when there is enough time for employees to complete the review. The employer may require that employees or agents view records on their own time and that inspection occurs on the premises and in the presence of the employer's designated official.
  • For the employee's agent, the employee must provide signed authorization designating the agent. The authorization must include a specific date and indicate the reason for the file inspection or the parts of the record the agent is authorized to inspect. 
  • Copying records: Employers are not obligated to permit copying, but employees are allowed to take notes. 
  • Employee's right to insert rebuttal: After a petition hearing, according to The Bureau of Labor Standards, employees are allowed to place a counter statement into the file if they believe the information is incorrect. 
  • Written request required: At the employer's discretion.

 

Rhode Island: R.I. Gen. Laws § 28-6.4-1

  • Employers affected: All employers are affected.
  • Employee access to records: To access their files, employees must give employers seven-day advance notice, not including weekends and holidays. Employers can limit access to the files three times a year. 
  • Conditions for viewing records: Employees can view their files at any reasonable time outside of their work hours. File inspections must occur in the presence of the employer or the employer’s representative. 
  • Copying records: The employee may not make copies or remove any files from the place of inspection, and the employer can charge a fee related to supplying copies of the file.
  • Written request required: Yes.

 

Washington: Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 49.12.240 to 49.12.260

 

  • Employers affected: All employers are affected.
  • Employee access to records: Within a reasonable time after their request, employees may access personnel files at least once a year.
  • Employee's right to insert rebuttal: Employees are eligible to petition that the employer review all of the information in their personnel file. The employer must remove any incorrect or irrelevant found. If the employer and employee disagree with the review, the employee may have a statement of rebuttal or correction placed in the file. For two years after termination, former employees have the right of rebuttal.

Wisconsin: Wis. Stat. Ann. § 103.13

  • Employers affected: Employers who maintain personnel files.
  • Employee access to records: Current and former employees must be allowed access to inspect personnel records within seven working days of making the request. Access to the files is permitted twice a year unless a bargaining agreement claims otherwise. Employees involved in a current grievance are allowed to designate a representative of the union, a collective bargaining unit, or another agent to inspect records that could be relevant to resolving the grievance.
  • Conditions for viewing records: Employees can view the records during regular working hours in or near the worksite. Employers may provide more reasonable time blocks to review the files if it requires the employee to take time off.
  • Copying records: Employees can receive copies of their personnel files, and the employer may only charge for the exact cost of reproduction.
  • Written request required: At employer's discretion.
  • Employee's right to insert rebuttal: If an employee disagrees with any information found in the personnel record and cannot agree with the employer to remove or correct it, the employee may submit an explanatory written statement. The statement must then be attached to the portion(s) of the file.
     

Why Was My State Not Listed?

In the United States, it is not federally mandated that employers are required to grant their current or past employees access to their personnel files.  If you did not see your state listed above, it could mean that employees do not have access to their files or the state does not have a specific law behind employees having access to their personnel files. For example, states with no provisions include Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, and West Virginia. States with provisions that grant rights to certain public employees include the following:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Nebraska
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming

For more information regarding your state's laws over access to your personnel file, you can connect with a Morgan & Morgan attorney.