Every business with employees must have documentation for each employee regarding their employment. By protecting the existence of these documents, employees can rely on legal documentation of employment if the court requires such information in a case. This is also a benefit to the employer if a legal labor dispute occurs. In both cases, the court will require official documentation regarding an employee’s personnel file, such as length of employment, positive and negative remarks, absence, personal leave, etc.
What is an Employee Personnel File?
An employee personnel file consists of documents provided by the employee to the company, as well as any additional documents the company has on the employee, Documents in an employee personnel file would be:
- Contract information,
- Emergency contacts
- Performance evaluations,
- Tax withholdings
- References from previous employers
- Customer comments
- Employee disputes
- Payroll authorization forms
An employee personnel file tracks the employee’s record within the workplace or on the job. The personnel file may also contain information on the individual’s background, such as a criminal history report. The employee has a right to access any documents above that would pertain to their performance, positive or negative, within the company.
Do all Employers have Employee Personnel Files?
The employer does not need to have a formal employee personnel file. Still, they need to keep certain documents regarding the employee’s status at the company. Still, they do need to have proper documentation of their employment contract as well as:
- Full legal name
- Date of Birth
- Job title
- Full address
- Basic payroll information
Are Employees Entitled to Their Employee Personnel File?
Employers are required to provide current and former employees with their personnel files. According to California Labor Code §§ 1198.5; 432, both current and former employees can inspect their respective personnel files. They may also choose to obtain a copy of this file and any records the employer maintained regarding the employee’s performance or grievances filed against them. Once requested, the employer is legally required to send this file no later than 30 calendar days after the individual submits a request. If the former or current employee cannot complete this process personally, they may elect an official representative to retrieve the file on their behalf.
Why has my Employer not Given me my Personnel File Prior to Request?
While an employer does have to give current and, former employees access to the personal information that the companies have on the individual. The employee is allowed to request a copy of their employee personnel file. Another stipulation is that employees must submit a written request for the file due to California law. An employee can view their employee personnel files by submitting a request to the employer in a couple of different ways; it all comes down to company policy. There are several different ways to obtain your employee personnel file. Still, the two methods listed above are the most popular and convenient for both employees and employers. However, the employer does not have to release paperwork immediately upon request. It may take some time to collect and transmit the file. Therefore, the employee can request a copy sent via mail. Suppose the employer terminates their employee. The employee can then receive and access their records by sending the documents to their address. Overall, there should be no reason this paperwork is not available to the employee should legal trouble arise.
Is this Specific for California?
When it comes to employee personal files, it is not just California that needs to have a personnel file or record of information on employees. It is a federal law that grants employees the right to have access to their employee personal files. Each state has laws regarding the information the employee has access to and the period an employer must respond within.
Do only Large Corporations Keep Employee Personnel Files?
Small companies, large companies, and contractors must keep proper employee documentation. In doing so, any employee can access this information when necessary. Personnel files and records can be beneficial in situations such as faulty paystubs or questions regarding reviews or disciplinary actions.
What if my Employer Loses my File?
It is illegal for an employer to lose or destroy employee personnel files. If the employer loses or destroys the files, they could be subject to a civil lawsuit. This suit would be on grounds of Employer Negligence.
Is the Employer Required to Release Everything?
Employers do not have to release everything within the personnel file. Some documents are under special production due to their source and nature.
These documents are as follows:
- Letters of Reference submitted during the application process
- Records regarding misconduct or relating to a criminal offense committed
- Records obtained before employment
- Records relating to a promotional review
What if my Employer Denies my Request for my Employee Personnel File?
An employer is legally required to relinquish employee personal files. If they choose to deny the request, the denied individual should contact the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, DLSE. The employee can file a claim with the DLSE to obtain the withheld personnel file.