HR Quick Take: Employee Personnel Files

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Q: I have an employee who periodically engages in poor behavior. Generally, what happens is just as the prior warning is being removed from the file, after six months or a year, the behavior occurs again. What should I do?

A: In general, with the exception of some union environments, employers would not “remove” prior disciplinary actions from an employee’s file for the very reasons cited in the question. While there might be a certain timeframe where a written warning or the performance issues disqualify an employee from transfer or promotions, having an expiring timeframe for disqualification is not the same thing as removing documentation from a file. Documentation should be kept during the term of the employment to assess ongoing, historical, or cyclical problems with employee performance. 

Note that it is common for attendance points to roll off after a certain time period which is appropriate under most attendance policies, however, the prior attendance warnings should be kept in order to assess if there is a long-term pattern. 

Related Resource:

HR Quick Take: Sharing Employee Personnel Files

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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