Personnel Files

Can I keep criminal record check results in an employee's personnel file or does that have to be kept separately? They were aware we did the search and signed the approval beforehand.


  • 6 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I'm not going to try to speak to the legal issues specifically, but it seems to me that from a privacy standpoint, you would want to keep these reports in a separate file under lock and key - in much the same manner as you treat people's drug test results. You may want to keep a separate file like I-9's, filed in alphabetical order but with very limited access. When the person terminates, I would pull the report out and include it with their records so the personnel records are complete. You really want to limit access to this material so that if personal information gets out about an employee, you can prove that the company's procedure for keeping this information is so limited that it couldn't have come from the company.

    Margaret Morford
  • In keeping with law (as we know it) all medical & health records are kept separate from the personnel file - as is reference checks and criminal background checks. Your 1-9's also should be separated from the file and kept in their own folder (new hires in one and terms in another) It seems the nature our work is now files, files and more files.
  • I have read all of the above with great interest and wonder if anyone has a list of what CAN BE included in an employee's personnel file? I see that reference checks should NOT be included and I was unaware of that!
  • Joyce,

    I'm not sure that you are legally required to keep reference checks in a separate file, but I would keep a criminal background check in a separate file to avoid an invasion of privacy cause of action. If you are going to keep the criminal background check in a separate file, it makes practical sense to keep references there too.

    If I were setting up personnel files, I'd have the file that has all of the regular documents, application, corrective action, contact information, etc. You then need a separate medical file with FMLA stuff, drug test results, etc. I'd keep my I-9's in a separate file so that when you are audited by the government, they don't get to rove through the entire personnel file, just the I-9 file. I would have a separate file for very personal information like criminal background checks and any type of litigation issues such as documents on sexual harassment complaints, discrimination complaints, investigations, etc. The medical file and privacy file should be kept in separate file drawers that only specified people in HR have access to in oder to protect you against an invasion of privacy suit. This way regular supervisors do not have access to them when they request a file on someone. Don't forget when a subpoena is served for the personnel file to look in all four files on this individual.

    Call me at 615-371-8200 if you have any questions.

    Margaret Morford
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 06-19-01 AT 12:21PM (CST)[/font][p]Joyce,

    This article should help you sort out what to keep in employees' personnel files:

    "Tips for maintaining personnel files"

    Christy Reeder
    Website Managing Editor
  • In the "official personnel" file, we keep only the documents that pertain to the actual job performance, job description, training etc. Anything else we consider taboo for the "official personnel" file and are kept separate. We keep a separate medical file, benefits/payroll file (current and former employees separated), I-9 file (current and former) and confidential file.

    I know it sounds like a lot of work, but with differences in record retention and different agencies that may come and ask for your records, we feel that this protects us the best. I have heard (at a Florida seminar) that if Immigration comes in to look at your I-9s and they are not separated, you must turn over the entire file that contains the I-9s, in addition, if Immigration spots other deficiencies they can report those to the other agencies.

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