Right to Inspect Personnel Files 

The law in California effective January 1, 2013, allows employees to access to personnel files and personal files in different companies where they have worked so that they can access their performance and grievances.

There are several steps which the employers should undertake to comply with the law, they include:

  1. The employer should keep copies of the employee’s personal records for a period not less than three years after the termination of the employee’s job.
  2. The employer should make the personal files of the employee available when asked to do so.
  3. The employer should provide a copy at a location where the employee requests the files to be availed.
  4. The employer is not mandated to avail the personal files to the employee while he is working under his organization. If the employer is required to do so, he should avail the files only once a year. The employer is not mandated to avail more than 50 copies of the files in a given month.

FAQs About Right of Inspecting Personnel Files


1. Do an employer have the right to inspect personnel file?

Yes, you can inspect your personal files on a reasonable interval. To facilitate inspection of the files, the employer is required to maintain copies of the personal files. Even if you move out of the company, the employer is required to keep the records for a period of about three years.


2. Do employees on absence leave allowed to access personal files?

Yes, anybody who is working or has been laid off with a right to reemployment or even the one who has left his work place in less than three years can access his personal files.


3. If a former employee quits his job, is he still allowed to access personal files?

Yes, all former employees have all the rights to inspect their personal files.


4.What is reasonable interval?

The reasonable interval is during hours when the offices at the employers’ organization are working. The employer is not needed to give the files to an employee who is currently working more than once a year.


5. Is there any request required in writing to ask for access to personal files?

Yes, you should provide a written request and the employer will organize to have the files available within 30 days of receiving your request.


6. Is an employee entitled to access all information in the personal files?

No, you are not allowed to access files related to criminal investigation, letters of reference, reports, and ratings of files that were obtained before your employment in a given company.