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What are the rules concerning third-Party access to employee personnel files?

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in Office Management,Records Retention

Q. I have heard that under Illinois law, our company must notify an employee if we receive a request from a third-party to review that employee’s personnel records. Is that true?

A. The Illinois Personnel Record Review Act (IPRRA) does oblige an employer to provide notice to an employee or former employee that it has received an inquiry from a third party (that is not a part of the employer’s organization) to obtain personnel documents. That notice shall advise the current or former employee that a request has been made for a disciplinary report, letter of reprimand or other disciplinary action. However, this notice of inquiry shall be mailed on or before the day the information is to be divulged by the employer.

The IPRRA does not require such notice if the employee has signed a waiver as part of a signed application with another employer, or the disclosure is ordered to a party in a legal action or arbitration, or if the information is requested by a government agency as a result of a claim or a complaint by an employee, or as a result of a criminal investigation by such agency.

The best practice suggests that an employer that has received such an inquiry provide notice sufficiently in time for the employee to meaningfully object to the employer divulging that information. Otherwise, the notice will be deemed to be ineffective. A seven-day period to allow the employee to assert an objection is viewed as reasonable. 

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