On Saturday, the Connecticut General Assembly gave final approval of several revisions to the state’s Personnel Files Act law. Governor Malloy is expected to approve of the measure.
Senate Bill 910 can be viewed here. The Office of Legislative Research’s analysis of the bill can be found here.
Here are the key changes:
Under the bill, an employer will have seven business days (instead of a “reasonable time”) to permit a current employee to inspect AND, if requested, a copy of his or her personnel file. Under the current law, an employee only had a right to inspection.
For former employees, an employer has ten business days after receiving a written request to allow that person to inspect or get a copy of his or her personnel file. Such a request must come within one year of the date of termination of that former employee. An employer can comply with this section by mailing a copy of the personnel file within the same time frame if the employer and former employee cannot agree “upon a location to conduct such inspection”.
Perhaps the most notable change for employers is that a copy of any documentation of any disciplinary action must be provided to the employee within one business day after imposing such action. Note: It appears that if there is no such documentation in the first place, it need not be created, but query what should happen in instances of a “verbal warning”?
The bill also states that each employer shall “immediately provide an employee with a copy of any documented notice of that employee’s termination of employment.” Presumably, again, it does not require such documentation to be made; only that if there is such documentation, it needs to be given to the employee at the time of termination.
Another major change is that the employer must include”a statement in clear and conspicuous language in any documented disciplinary action, notice of termination of such employee’s employment or performance evaluation that the employee may, should the employee disagree with any of the information contained in such documented disciplinary action, notice of termination or performance evaluation, submit a written statement explaining his or her position.” Any such employee statement must be included in any personnel file.
The law also allows the Connecticut Department of Labor to establish an appropriate fine (up to $500) for any first violation. In doing so, the DOL is to consider “all factors which the commissioner deems relevant” including the level necessary to achieve immediate compliance, the character and degree of the violation, and any prior history of the employer.
The measures would take effect October 1, 2013.
What’s the Takeaway for Connecticut Employers?
Assuming that the Governor approves of the bill, this will require employers of all size to familiarize themselves with the provisions and inform the relevant office staff and HR professionals of the changes. New policies and procedures should be adopted to implement these provisions.
Most importantly, if an employer already documents any disciplinary action, it now must provide a copy of that discipline to employees directly.
What is a disciplinary action? That is left undefined by the bill. Employers should consider contacting their local employment law counsel for additional specific guidance applicable to their business.
We’ll take a more in depth look at this bill in the months ahead, but in the meantime, employers in the state now have yet another administrative hassle to comply with.