Work it Out Blog

Do Your Employees Have A Right to Their Personnel Files?

Mar 19, 2016 by Jill C. McQueen

Absent a collective bargaining agreement, the right of individuals who work for private companies to view the contents of their personnel file is governed by state law.  In Ohio, much of the typical personnel file is deemed to be the property of the employer that creates it, and so an employee has no right to it.  There are, however, exceptions to this general rule which employers should keep in mind. 

Medical Records

Medical records maintained by an employer are not considered “personnel records,” and employees do have a right to these documents.  Per Ohio Revised Code §4113.23(A), upon a written request of an employee, a former employee, or a designated representative, an employer must provide a copy of any medical report pertaining to that individual.  This requirement extends to any medical report arising out of any physical examination by a health care professional, any hospital or laboratory tests which examinations or tests are required by the employer as a condition of employment, or arising out of any injury or disease related to the employment.  An employer is permitted to charge up to 25¢ per page for copies.

Wage and Hour Records

Employers are also required to maintain and produce certain wage and hour information upon request from an employee or his/her representative.  According to Ohio Revised Code §4111.14(G), the information to which an individual is entitled includes name; home address; occupation; rate of pay (meaning an employee’s base rate or annual salary, not including bonuses, stock options, incentives, or deferred compensation); each amount paid (total gross wages paid to an employee for each pay period); and hours worked each day (except for exempt employees), which means the total amount of time an employee works during the day measured in whatever increment an employer uses for its payroll purposes.  In responding to a request for wage and hour information, an employer may require that the request be in writing, signed by the employee, notarized, and that it reasonably identify the specific information being sought.  An employer is not permitted to charge the employee for wage and hour information.  Normally, the employer has thirty (30) days in which to produce the records sought.

The law regarding an employee’s right to review and copy employment records varies from state to state.  Be sure your organization is familiar with the requirements of every state in which it operates – before requests are made.

The content of this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice for any purpose. This blog is not intended to present an exhaustive summary of all applicable laws, or to take the place of legal advice.  If you have any questions regarding the law, please contact us for assistance.