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And Another Thing...

Question: If an employee has been given copies of reviews, discipline reports and/or termination letter during the course of employment, and then the employee is fired, is the employer obligated to give additional copies when requested by the employee?

This question was posed during one of our recent HR education sessions.  It is a great stand-alone question but also brings to our attention the importance of proper documentation and personnel recordkeeping practices. So we will answer the question directly here, and if you are interested in more in depth info about the importance of proper documentation and personnel recordkeeping practices, see our recent article on the topic.

Answer:  No, you do not need to provide employees with copies of their personnel record; HOWEVER… you are required to allow employees to inspect their file.  The piece of legislation that helps us answer this question is the Personnel File Act of 1978, (P.L. 1212, No. 286) also known as the Inspection of Employment Record Law.   This Act provides employees with the right to review their employment records or have a designee (aka lawyer) review their record annually, more often if there are specific concerns.  The employer must make the records available for inspection within a reasonable amount of time, and allow sufficient time for the employee to review the records.  Remember, the records are the property of the employer and great care should be taken to protect the integrity of the employer’s documentation.  The employer should supervise the file inspection and insure the file and/or its contents do not leave the premises or become altered.  According to the act, the employer is not required to make copies or allow the employee to copy the contents.

The employer can (and should) require the employee or designee to put their request in writing, noting the purpose of the inspections or the items they would like to inspect.  The employer is not required to allow the employee to complete this inspection “on the clock” but can require employee to complete inspection on their own time. 

Case law has extended this right to past employees who request the review of their personnel records within a reasonable time of termination. (Beitman v. Department of Labor and Industry, 675 A.2d 1300 Pa.Cmwlth., 1996) The Bureau of Labor Standards of the Department of Labor and Industry administers this act and would hear any complaints.

So simply, get it in writing, provide timely access, and supervise the inspection.

If the records are being requested as part of an active claim or lawsuit allow your legal counsel to handle the production of requested records.



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