Employee Access to Personnel Files

I have an employee who was accused of something that sparked an investigation.  I have documented all of the interviews and action we took based on the information we received.  Now the employee wants to view his file and I told him that he could not see that part of the file because the name of the person who came to me with the complaint is in the file and the company has to keep this confidential to keep from any retaliation claims.  Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this type of request and does anyone have a policy in their employment manual that says what an employee can have access to?  Please help….I am in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Florida.


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  • Based on my sources, Florida does not require that the employer show the employee their personnel file except "Employees and former employees or their representatives have the right to access medical records concerning the employee's exposure to toxic substances. Employers are allowed to charge employees a reasonable copying fee."

    One way to handle it is to not keep any complaints/investigations in the employee file.  So even if you allowed the employees to look at the file, that information would not be in there. There is NO requirement that it be in the employee's file. 

    Also you state that "the company has to keep this confidential". While this may be a company policy, it is not law.  Many times a complaint can not be kept confidential due to many reasons.  It is suggested that you keep it as confidential as possible like you said to keep retaliation claims down.

    While Texas (where I am) does not require access, here is our policy " Company Inc. maintains a personnel file on each employee.  You may review your personnel file upon request and in the presence of authorized personnel.  If you are interested in reviewing your file, contact the Human Resources Department to make arrangements. To ensure that your personnel file is up-to-date at all times, notify your supervisor or the Human Resources Department of any changes in your name, telephone number, home address, marital status, number of dependents, beneficiary designations, scholastic achievements, the individuals to notify in case of an emergency, and so forth. "

    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />There are many different perspectives on allowing employees to see their files, but honestly I am of the opinion that there should be nothing in the ee file that the ee does not know about or has not seen. 


  • Florida does not have a law giving employees a right to access their personnel files.  So, legally you don't have to show the employee the file.  At our company, we have a policy permitting employees to see their files upon written request.  However, if an investigation does not result in discipline, the invetigation documents are kept separately from the main personnel file.  You are right to be cautious about giving an employee access to the name of the person who made the complaint--you have to protect the company from retaliation claims and respect the privacy of that person. I would definitely get a written policy in place -- and keep all confidential information separate!   

  • I have always kept investigation notes and documents seperate from the personnel file.   If the investigation resulted in disciplinary action, you can put that action form in the personnel file, but you don't have to put the notes behind the investigation with it.


  • I always keep the investigation material in a separate file and require a subpoena for release.


    The disciplinary document goes in the EE file.

  • Thanks so much for your advice!!!!
  • I am in Florida as well.  Keep any employee investigation information including any notes, photos, etc in separate files as all is discoverable information.  You don't need to mingle personnel files with investigations at all.  
  •  Hi, I agree with HR4Me.  Our current policy is to keep 2 files; the ee relation’s items are kept separately in another cabinet under lock & key.  This way if an employee requests to have a copy of their file, they can have copies of forms that are in their file but that wont jeopardize any confidential items.
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