Last year the Connecticut legislature amended the state personnel files statutes to add specific compliance requirements in three areas. The prior statutes defined personnel and medical files, allowed employees to request inspection of their files, allowed employees to offer corrections, made personnel files confidential, and allowed employees to obtain copies. The amendments in Public Act 13-176 added specific mandates for accomplishing these requirements. The amendments became effective on October 1, 2013, but do not seem to have been universally adopted by human resources managers.
The first change was to Connecticut General Statutes §31-128b, which now specifies that an employee shall receive a copy of his or her personnel file not more than seven (7) business days after submitting a written request. The time limit for furnishing a copy of a personnel file to a former employee is ten (10) business days.
The legislature seems to have anticipated issues with former employees returning to the workplace for inspection or copying of their personnel files (which have to be kept for one year), so that § 31-128b now allows the personnel file inspection to take place at a mutually agreed upon location, and if no agreement can be reached, allows the employer to mail a copy of the personnel file to the former employee.
A second area of specific regulation is the new requirement that the employer provide an employee with a copy of any documentation of any disciplinary action imposed on the employee, not more than one (1) business day after the date the discipline is imposed. If there is a documented notice of an employee’s termination, the employer shall immediately provide the employee with a copy of the document. Note that the statute does not impose a requirement to create a document, but only to furnish a copy if a document is created.
The third area of increased specificity applies to employee corrections of information in a personnel file. Under the amended § 31-128e, an employee may request removal or correction of information in a personnel file with which the employee disagrees. If the employer and the employee cannot agree upon removal or correction, the employee may submit a written statement explaining his or her position, and that statement must be maintained as part of the personnel file. If a copy of the personnel file is to be disclosed to a third party, the transmittal or disclosure from the file must include the employee’s corrective statement.
Furthermore, any document of disciplinary action, including termination, and any performance evaluation, must contain a notice in clear and conspicuous language that if the employee disagrees with any of the information in the document, the employee may submit a corrective statement to be maintained as part of the personnel file and transmitted with any copy of the personnel file to a third party.
Many employers have standard forms for disciplinary actions and for performance evaluations. If they have not already done so, employers should revise these forms to add the required statutory notice concerning the employee’s right to submit corrective statements.