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Access to Employee Personnel File Policy Template

This policy covers everything employees need to know about their personnel files with HR and how they can access them.

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Access to Employee Personnel File Policy Template

This policy covers everything employees need to know about their personnel files with HR and how they can access them.


*Disclaimer from Trainual

Please note that this template is not a legal document. And its information is for general knowledge and educational purposes only — not to provide advice on how to structure your organization's processes and/or policies. Meaning, this template should never be taken in place of legal advice. 

To use, you will need to customize this template to meet all your company's requirements. So, please update it with any and all relevant information before rolling it out (like deleting this step)!

Why We Have This Policy

Our policy is established to ensure transparency, privacy, and security in the handling of employee records. We recognize that personnel files contain sensitive and confidential information, ranging from employment history to performance evaluations. This policy is in place to strike a balance between employee rights to access their own information and the need to safeguard this data against unauthorized access.

Having this policy allows employees to review and understand the information kept in their files, fostering an environment of trust and open communication. It also ensures that our company adheres to legal standards regarding data privacy and employee rights. By regulating access to personnel files, we protect the integrity of employee data, maintain confidentiality, and uphold our commitment to ethical and responsible information management. This policy is a key part of our dedication to creating a respectful, secure, and transparent workplace for all our employees.

Our Employee Personnel File Policy

Your Personnel File

Our company maintains 3 files for each employee.

1. Personnel file

The Personnel File contains confidential documents and is managed and maintained by the Human Resources staff.

Access to this file is limited to HR staff and assumes that each employee's manager maintains his or her own file with documents relevant to the employee's work performance.

Typical documents in a personnel file include the employment application, a family emergency contact form, documented disciplinary action history, a resume, employee handbook and at-will employer sign off sheets, current personal information, and job references.

Not all personnel files contain the same documents but each personnel file has some documents that are the same.

2. Payroll file

The Payroll File contains a history of the employee's jobs, departments, compensation changes, and so on. Access to the payroll file is limited to the appropriate accounting and HR staff.

3. Employee medical file

The contents of the Employee Medical File are not available to anyone except Human Resources designated staff and the employee whose records are retained in the file. Medical files receive the highest degree of safe storage and confidentiality.

An employee may view his or her personnel file by contacting a Human Resources staff person during normal business hours. No employee may alter or remove any document from his or her personnel file which must be viewed in the presence of an HR staff person.

Access to Personnel Records

All employees, former employees, and representatives of employees may view certain contents of their personnel file with advance notice to the Human Resources staff. Documents that relate to the employee's qualifications for hire such as the application, promotion, disciplinary action, and transfer may be viewed. Additionally, the employee may review policy sign off forms and training records.

Documents that the employee may not review include references or reference checks, records of any investigation undertaken by management, medical records, documents related to a judicial proceeding, any document that would violate the confidentiality of another employee, and documents used for employee planning.

Procedures to access personnel records

An employee who wants to review the allowable contents of their personnel file should contact Human Resources with 24 hours notice (weekends excluded). Former employees, or people unknown to the Human Resources staff, must present identification and/or proof of permission to access the personnel file.

Employees must review their personnel files in the presence of a Human Resources staff person.

Employees may not remove from the office any part of the personnel file.

The employee may request photocopies of the file or portions of the file. Within reason, the Human Resources staff person will provide photocopies. For extensive copying, the employee will need to pay for the photocopies.

If the employee is unhappy with a document in his or her personnel file, in the presence of the Human Resources staff person, the employee may write an explanation or clarification and attach it to the disputed document. Under no circumstances will the HR staff or the employee alter the actual document.

The employee may also ask to have a document removed from the personnel file. If the Human Resources staff person agrees, the document may be removed. If the Human Resources staff person disagrees, the matter may be appealed in the manner prescribed in the Open Door Policy.

How Long We Keep Personnel Files

As part of our commitment to responsible record-keeping and in compliance with legal requirements, we have a defined policy on the retention of personnel files. Employee personnel files are retained for a specific period, which is crucial for both administrative purposes and adherence to various legal and regulatory mandates.

Upon the termination of employment, we retain personnel files for a period of seven years. This duration is in line with industry standards, ensuring that we maintain necessary records for any potential future references, legal claims, or compliance audits. The retention period starts from the date of an employee's departure from the company.

Please be assured that even after your departure, your personal information is safeguarded with the utmost care and confidentiality. Upon the lapse of the retention period, all files are disposed of securely and in accordance with data protection regulations.

Have Questions?

In summary, our Access to Employee Personnel File Policy is a crucial element in maintaining a workplace rooted in trust, respect, and legal compliance. It carefully delineates the guidelines for accessing sensitive employee information, ensuring transparency while protecting confidentiality. This policy underscores our commitment to responsible data management and respects the rights of our employees to access their personal records.

For any questions or additional information regarding this policy, employees are encouraged to contact the Human Resources department. 

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