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Departing employees and personnel files

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Q. If an employee who is leaving the company requests to take a copy of his or her complete personnel file, must we provide it? If so, does that include all records from the separate medical file and any confidential file?

A. Upon written request, a departing employee has the right under Minnesota’s Personnel Records statute to receive copies of his or her personnel file. This is not a request you need to address as the employee is walking out the door. The employee must be given a copy within seven working days of the request (14 days if the records are located out of state).

Since requests like these can signal future legal issues, it is wise to consult your legal counsel. The statute defines the types of information that qualify as a “personnel record.” Medical records are not personnel records and don’t need to be disclosed. (In fact, in accordance with the Minnesota Human Rights Act, these records should be maintained in a separate, confidential file.)

Written comments or data authored by and kept in the sole possession of a supervisor or executive, administrative or professional employee also may be kept confidential. Other types of “confidential files” may or may not fall within the definition of the records employers are required to produce.

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