Employee Rights to Personnel File
Stated simply, an employee, past or present, has the right to view his or her personnel file upon a reasonable request to the employer. The employer is not required to provide you with a copy of the file, but must give you copies of anything you signed. If you want more detail, here are the particulars:
California law requires that employers allow employees and former employees access to their personnel files and records that relate to the employee’s performance or to any grievance concerning the employee. Labor Code Section 1198.5 Inspections must be allowed at reasonable times and intervals. To facilitate the inspection, employers must do one of the following: (1) keep a copy of each employee’s personnel records at the place where the employee reports to work, (2) make the personnel records available at the place where the employee reports to work within a reasonable amount of time following the employee’s request, or (3) permit the employee to inspect the records at the location where they are stored with no loss of compensation to the employee.
The right to inspect personnel files and records does not apply to records relating to the investigation of a possible criminal offense, letters of reference, or ratings, reports, or records that (a) were obtained prior to the employee’s employment, (b) were prepared by identifiable examination committee members, or (c) were obtained in connection with a promotional exam.
Employees of state agencies, with few exceptions, and public safety officers are exempt from the provisions of Labor Code Section 1198.5. However, other public employees are covered under Labor Code Section 1198.5, including, those of a city, county, special district, community redevelopment agency, or other political subdivision of the state.
Employers are required to give an employee or job applicant, upon request, a copy of any instrument that the employee or applicant has signed relating to the obtaining or holding of employment. Labor Code Section 432
Employers are required to permit current and former employees to inspect or copy payroll records pertaining to that current or former employee. Labor Code Section 226(b) An employer who receives a written or oral request from a current or former employee to inspect or copy his or her payroll records shall comply with the request as soon as practicable, but no later than 21 calendar days from the date of the request. A failure by an employer to permit a current or former employee to inspect or copy his or her payroll records within the aforementioned 21 calendar day period entitles the current or former employee to recover a penalty from the employer in a civil action before a court of competent jurisdiction. Labor Code Section 226, subdivisions (c) and (f).
Employers are required to keep accurate payroll records on each employee, and such records must be made readily available for inspection by the employee upon reasonable request. Additionally, when a piece rate or incentive plan, such as a commission plan, is in operation, piece rates or an explanation of the incentive plan formula shall be provided to employees. The employer must maintain accurate production records. IWC Orders 1 through 15, Section 7, and IWC Order 16, Section 6,
All employers must provide employees or their representative(s) access to accurate records of employee exposure to potentially toxic materials or harmful physical agents. Labor Code Section 6408(d)
Employment records may be subpoenaed from a current or former employer by a third party. If employment records are subpoenaed, the employee must be notified and has the right to object to production of the records. Code of Civil Procedure Section 1985.6(e).
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The Orange County defamation law firm of Morris & Stone provides business litigation and defamation (libel, slander) civil lawsuit legal services to clients in Southern California, in Orange County, Riverside County, San Diego County, and Los Angeles County; in cities including Newport Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Mission Viejo, Orange, Fountain Valley, Tustin, Anaheim, San Clemente and Fullerton.
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