Starting in 2013, employers in California will have to allow their former employees to inspect their personnel files just like current employees, and employers that deny access will be subject to monetary penalties and other relief.
Those are two of many features of a legislation (A.B. 2674) signed recently by Gov. Jerry Brown revising the state’s personnel files access law.
The law gives employees the right to designate a representative to conduct the inspection or request a copy of the file. If an employee is required to inspect or receive a copy at a location other than the place where he or she reports to work, no loss of compensation to the employee is permitted because of the time needed for the employee to travel from the site where the employee normally reports to work.
The law also imposes some new obligations on employers. For example, employers must develop, and provide upon request, a written form employees may use to request access to, and a copy of, records in their personnel file. In addition, employers must allow viewing or to produce a copy of the records within 30 calendar days of a written request of a current or former employee, or the employee’s representative.
There are some exceptions to granting an inspection request. An employer is not required to comply with more than 50 requests for a copy of the records described in this statute (seeking 50 separate employee’s records) filed by a representative or representatives of employees in one calendar month. It also does not have to comply with more than one request per year by a former employee to inspect or to receive a copy of his or her personnel file.
Employers may be penalized $750 for violating the law, and also be subject to injunctive relief and attorney’s fees recovery by the former or current employee whose rights have been violated.
For more detail on the law, see the excellent writeup by the Littler law firm.
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