Significant, Immediate Changes To Massachusetts Personnel Record Law


On August 5, 2010, Governor Patrick signed into law an economic development bill, An Act Relative To Economic Development Reorganization, Chapter 240 of the Acts of 2010. Chapter 240 includes an amendment to the Massachusetts Personnel Record Law, M.G.L. c. 149, § 52C that, among other changes, imposes a new notice requirement on employers. Chapter 240 took effect when signed by the Governor and the changes effected by the amendment to the Personnel Record Law are retroactive to August 1, 2010.

Required Notification

The Personnel Record Law has been amended to require employers to give notice to an employee within 10 days of placing certain negative information into the employee’s personnel record. Specifically, notice to the employee is required “within 10 days of the employer placing in the employee’s personnel record any information to the extent that the information is, has been used or may be used, to negatively affect the employee’s qualification for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation or the possibility that the employee will be subject to disciplinary action.”

While elsewhere in the same paragraph the Public Record Law requires an employer to provide an employee with access to, or a copy of, the employee’s personnel record within “five business days” of the employee's request for same, the notice regarding negative information is required within “10 days,” suggesting that the time for giving such notice is 10 calendar days.

The amendment does not require that the notice to the employee be in writing, although employers may want a record of compliance with the notice requirement. In some cases, such as that of a disciplinary warning or a performance evaluation, the notice requirement should be satisfied through the employer’s normal procedure of providing a copy of the warning or evaluation to the employee with a notation included on the copy that the original (or another copy) has been forwarded to the employee’s personnel file.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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