“I want a copy of my file.” 

For some reason, these seven words seem to spark fear and trepidation in HR professionals, managers, and owners.  Why?  It’s usually indicative of a disgruntled worker or a former employee who is looking for ways to file a complaint or bring legal action against the company.

The good news is, there are laws to provide guidance when this request comes in, and there are best practices to boot.

Let’s start with the law.  Follow these guidelines whenever you are asked to provide a copy of the personnel file:

  • Employee access to records: An employee or former employee who has worked at least 60 days must be given a reasonable opportunity to inspect personnel records. A former employee must be given access within 60 days of termination.
  • Conditions for viewing records: Employee may view records during employer’s normal business hours.
  • Copying records: Employer must provide a copy of the file to current employees and to former employees who make a request within 60 days of termination. Employer may charge only actual cost of providing access and copies.
  • Employee’s right to insert rebuttal: Employee may submit a reasonable written explanation in direct response to any entry in personnel record. The statement must be of reasonable length.

NRS § 613.075

The records to which employees have access do not include confidential reports from previous employers or investigative agencies, or information concerning an investigation, arrest, or a conviction of that employee for a violation of the law.

All that said, it’s important to have best practices in mind when setting up (and maintaining) personnel files. This serves a purpose internally as well. For example, your line supervisor doesn’t need to know that someone on his staff has outstanding child support garnishments.  Right to privacy aside, finding out too much about the personal side of employee lives can skew reviews and disciplinary actions, so keep those out of the wrong hands.

The personnel file should contain:

  • W-4
  • Employee information sheet (demographic information)
  • Direct deposit information
  • Employment-related documents (evaluations, warnings, time off requests, signed handbook acknowledgement / policy acknowledgement)
  • Application / Resume
  • Certifications (if required by employer)
  • Notice of Worker Rights and Responsibilities (Nevada OSHA)

It is recommended to keep the following items in a separate file:

  • Medical benefits
  • Workers compensation
  • FMLA / ADA documentation
  • Investigations
  • Drug tests / Background checks
  • Garnishments (child support/collections activity/levies)

And when it comes to the I-9, those belong in a separate file and must be organized by active and terminated.  If you have a lot of employees and turnover, a 3-ring binder might be a good idea.

If you are unsure whether or not your files are compliant, NAE can assist you with a file audit / review. Contact us today!