Employees Accessing Their Files
Have you have been asked by an employee to review their personnel file? How did you answer them?
Here’s the general rule. Employers should treat all personnel files as they would treat any other sensitive company documents. They should be kept locked in a cabinet/room where only those authorized access to the information should have it. For various reasons, you may not want to allow employees access.
You may ask, why not allow employees access to their files? There can be very sensitive information that is retained on an employee that may not necessarily be for their eyes. For example, reference and/or background checks, incident investigations, to name a few.
There are eighteen states that have laws regarding employee access to their personnel files. If your business is in one of these states, you have no choice but to allow them access. The important thing is to know the law in your state and have your own policy that is compliant with your state law. You can have a policy on what documents get stored where, keeping all sensitive information separate.
I’ve always recommended employers maintain five separate files where employee information is stored. They are:
1) Records pertaining to an employee’s performance
2) Medical and benefit information
3) I-9 Information
4) Payroll Information
5) Worker’s Compensation records if applicable