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Do employees have the right to access their personnel files?

by on
in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources,Office Management,Records Retention

Q. One of our employees is having disagreements with his supervisor over performance issues. The employee has asked to see his personnel file. Does he have a legal right to see his file?

A. Private-sector employees have no right to see their files or make copies of any documents. If you have a unionized work force, the union may have access to the file in order to fulfill its duty to administer the labor contract (e.g., to see if a grievance should be filed or aid in the presentation of a grievance) or to assist in collective bargaining.

However, in the interest of good employee relations, most employers have a policy allowing employees an opportunity to review their personnel files at a reasonable time and place.

You can and should prohibit removing and copying files. In addition, do not allow former employees to browse their files.

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