Starting October 1, 2013, Connecticut employers will be subject to various time-sensitive recordkeeping requirements due to recent amendments to the state's longstanding Personnel Files Act. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-128b, as amended by 2013 Ct. ALS 176. Covered employers should review and revise current personnel files policies and ensure efficiency in processes in order to avoid statutory penalties.
The changes expand on the already employee-friendly provisions of the Act, such as those providing for civil penalties and access to records for current and former employees. Connecticut's personnel records law will have relatively onerous requirements when compared to similar laws in other states.
The Act's changed requirements will mandate that a Connecticut employer provide an employee with a copy of "any documentation" related to a disciplinary action within one business day of the action. Although the amendments do not specifically define "any documentation," under current law, personnel file refers to any information or documentation (including performance appraisals or credit reports) that could be used by an employer to take actions related to:
Changes in employee compensation;
Discipline or other adverse employment actions, up to and including termination of employment.
Employers will be required to inform employees of their existing right to challenge information in personnel files by including a "clear and conspicuous" statement to that effect in every documented disciplinary action, notice of termination and performance appraisal.
Finally, employers will have to comply with the amended Act's time-sensitive inspection and copying requirements, including an obligation to mail a copy of a personnel file to a former employee within 10 days after receiving a written request from the former employee if a place for inspection cannot be mutually agreed upon. Employers must continue to retain a former employee's personnel files for at least one year after the employee's termination.
The Connecticut Labor Department enforces the provisions of the Act. Penalties for noncompliance under the amended Act range from up to $500 for a first violation to up to $1,000 for repeat violations, providing the Labor Department with some discretion in enforcing the Act's provisions.