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How to Request Your Personnel Records from Your California Employer

How to Request Your Personnel Records from Your California Employer

California law permits access to these records.

How to Request Your Personnel Records from Your California EmployerThere are many reasons why an employee might want access to his or her personnel records.  Perhaps you want to assess your performance over time, or are worried about a vindictive supervisor putting negative remarks into your file.  Whatever the reason may be, reviewing your file from time to time may be a smart idea.  And according to a skilled employment law attorney, under California law, employees have the right to these records.

According to California law, both current and former employees have the right to review their personnel records, along with any files that document their performance and documentation related to any associated grievances.  Once employees request a copy of their files, employers have 30 days to comply and provide a full copy.  Employees are simply required to pay the cost of reproducing the files.

To make a request, employees can either file a written request (by mail, email, or other written form), or by making a written request using a form provided by the employer.  As noted above, the employer has to provide access to the records within 30 days.  However, the employer does not have to provide time during the workday for an employee to review his or her records.

There are a number of records that must be included when an employer makes these personnel records available to employees.  These include paperwork signed by the employee at the time of hiring, payroll records, production records, attendance documentation, records of training or education, official warnings, discipline and/or termination, performance ratings and reviews, notices related to vacations or time off from work, explanations of incentive plans, documentation of exposure to hazardous materials, and notices related to garnishment of wages.

However, not all records must be included.  Employers can exclude certain documents, such as letters of recommendation, those related to criminal investigation, records acquired prior to hiring an employee, documents prepared by persons or committees who would be easily discernible, and records related to criminal investigations.

As a seasoned employment law attorney can explain, employers are required to maintain employee personnel records for three years after an employee leaves the company.  At any time during employment and for this three year period, employers must make the personnel records available for inspection and copying upon request.  Employees have the right to make these requests at least once per year.

If an employee was terminated because he or she committed a crime or otherwise did something illegal, then an employer can respond to the request by mail, or at a location other than the workplace.  This location simply must be at a reasonable distance from the former employee’s home.

Having access to your personnel records can be important, particularly if you believe that you may have been discriminated against in your job.  Knowing that you have received good performance reviews and yet still are not being promoted may serve as important evidence that other factors are at play.  If your employer refuses to comply with your request to inspect and copy your personnel records, or if you believe that your personnel records may be evidence of workplace discrimination, an experienced employment law attorney can help.  Contact PLBSH today at (800) 435-7542 or to schedule a consultation.  Our dedicated team of lawyers will work hard to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

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