When Do I Have to Show An Employee His/Her Employment File?

This week I received three calls from different employees frustrated with their employers for various reasons.  One had been terminated and wanted to know her options, the second had been threatened with a performance improvement plan that she believed was a retaliatory action, and the third believed she was being discriminated against and wanted to know how to handle it.  All three had additional questions, and reviewing the companies’ employee handbooks or the employees’ contracts for employment would have helped the employees know their rights.  Not all of my callers had copies of this documentation, however, and when one of them asked to review her employment file, she was denied access.

When Must Employers Allow Employees to Review their Personnel Files?

If an employee makes a written request to see his/her employment file in good faith, and has not made such a request in the last six months, the employer shall give the employee the opportunity to review the file.  The employee must be allowed to review the file within seven working days if the record is located within the state of Minnesota, or within fourteen working days if it is located outside of Minnesota.  The personnel record or an accurate copy must be made available for review by the employee during the employer’s normal hours of operation at the employee’s place of employment or another nearby location, but need not be made available during the employee’s working hours. The employer may require that the review be made in the presence of the employer or the employer’s designee. After the review and upon the employee’s written request, the employer shall provide a copy of the record to the employee, at no charge to the employee.

Note that the requirements are slightly different for former employees.  They may review their employment records once per year after the end of their employment, or if they make a written request for a copy of the file, the employer shall comply.  The employer is then released of the obligation to allow the employee to review the file annually.

For a copy of Minnesota Statute 181.961 governing employee access to employment records, click here.

If you have questions about employment records or another issue of employment law, please contact ES Swanson Law.