Effective January 1, 2013, a new California law expands employees’ access to records in their personnel files related to performance and grievances concerning the employee.
Employees have for some time had the right to inspect certain documents in their personnel files. AB 2674 provides that employees also have the right to receive a copy of documents in their personnel file related to the employee’s performance and any grievance concerning the employee, and that former employees have the same right to access these documents as current employees.
The new law states in part:
- Both current and former employees may access documents in their personnel files related to the employee’s performance and any grievance concerning the employee.
- Representatives may access those documents as authorized in writing.
- Such access is not limited to inspection; an employee may request a copy of the documents.
- The employer has 30 calendar days to respond to a request.
- The written request need not be on a particular form, but the employer must provide a form upon verbal request.
- The employer must keep the personnel file for at least three years after the employee’s termination.
- A former employee may make one request per year.
- A representative of multiple employees may make up to 50 requests per month.
The new law does not change the current requirement that an employer has 21 days from an employee’s written or oral request to allow for inspection and copying of itemized wage statements.
In light of AB 2674, employers should:
- Review handbooks and policies concerning personnel files, itemized wage statements, and record retention.
- Draft a form for requesting documents in personnel files.
- Designate a manager to track and respond to requests.
- Train supervisors about the new requirements.
- Make sure personnel files do not contain documents that should be kept in separate files (such as medical information, letters of reference, discrimination complaints, and I-9 forms).
Respond promptly to requests for documents contained in personnel files (within 30 days for personnel files and 21 days for itemized wage statements).
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