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Symmetry Authors

Symmetry Video Series


Motivating Employees: HR tips for getting employees motivated and engaged with your company.

Call of the Day: Employee File

We have an employee who is demanding that they see their personnel file.  Are we required to show it to them?  It doesn’t necessarily have anything in it we would prefer he not see, it is just the way that he is asking that is alarming to us.

It sounds as if your employee is concerned about a manager or something that has happened. 

Eighteen states have labor codes regarding an employee's right to have access to documents in his or her personnel files. Certainly, from a fairness and common-sense standpoint, even without a regulation to force the issue, an employee should be able to see all counseling reports and performance evaluations.

Some states allow employees to copy their entire files. One, California, until 2005 when the code changed, allowed the employee to have copies of documents which they have signed, a code which I particularly liked and recommend. This forced the employee to either sign appraisals and warning reports or not be able to get copies of them.

In essence the personnel files belongs to the company, not the employee. Therefore, in states which have no code, the employer has a right to withhold the file. The employee is then forced to request the file in writing and, barring that have an attorney request the file.