Q. Are we required to allow employees to inspect their personnel files? Must these files be retained at each office (rather than at a centralized location)?
A. California Labor Code section 1198.5 requires employers to permit current and former employees to inspect their personnel files. The employee must give reasonable notice to the employer, and the employer and employee must agree upon a reasonable time to view the files.
The files must include all documents used to determine the employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, termination or other disciplinary action. However, an employee does not have a right to inspect letters of reference or records relating to the investigation of a possible criminal offense.
Employers must either keep a copy of each employee’s personnel file at the location where the employee reports to work or make the file available at that location within a reasonable period of time following the employee’s request. Employees are not entitled to a copy of the personnel file but are entitled to a copy (upon request) of any employment documents that they are required to sign.
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