[author: Marta Moakley, XpertHR Legal Editor]
Effective January 1, 2013, California employers will face penalties for noncompliance with state requirements allowing for employee inspection of personnel records. On September 30, 2012, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill (2011 CA A.B. 2674), which adds copying and recordkeeping requirements, as well as penalty provisions, to existing state law.
California employees already had the right to inspect their personnel records relating to their performance or grievance history. However, under the new law:
Former, as well as current, employees have rights of access to personnel files;
Employees, or their representatives, have a right to inspect files except when the parties are involved in a court claim regarding a personnel matter;
Employers must develop employee request forms, provide these to employees upon their verbal requests for access, and comply with any written requests within 30 days (with limited exceptions);
Employers must provide copies of files, but may charge employees for copying costs; and
Employers face a $750 penalty, as well as other court-ordered sanctions, for noncompliance.
Employers should also note that the new law amends California's payment of wages recordkeeping requirements to include a duplicate of any itemized statement provided to an employee, or a computer-generated record that shows all of the state-required information.
For more information on particular states allowing employees a right to inspect personnel files, please refer to this chart.