What’s in Your Personnel File?

Did you know that on 8/30/10, Governor Patrick signed a new economic development bill that contains an amendment to Massachusetts personnel records law? The new law (Chapter 240 of the Acts of 2010, section 148) implements a dramatic change in the employers’ legal obligations regarding personnel records. The amendment requires employers to notify employees within 10 days of the addition to their “personnel record” of any information that is being used has been used or may be used to negatively affect the employee’s qualification for employement, promotion or transfer, additional compensation, or may subject the employee to disciplinary action.

The amendment to the law leaves many questions unanswered including what it means for information to be “placed” in a personnel file.

Also, the law does not dfine the type of noticie that must be given to employees when covered information is added to their personnel file.

Employers must still allow employees to see thir personnel file within 5 days of written request for review.

The Attorney General still retains enforcement authority and may find an employer $500 to $2,500 for violations.

The new law may affect the way employers approach personnel records and employee relations.

I recommend:

  • Employers adopt a company protocol for providing written, dated notice to employees within 10 days of placement of negative information in the personnel file.
  • Companies should train supervisors and managers on company protocol and how to properly document employee performance issues.
  • Employers seek help from an experienced Human Resource Professional or Attorney to discuss ways to maintain productive and effective management of employees while complying with this new requirement.

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