Do's and Don't's of Personnel Files
Byline: On the Job By Helen Russon Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries
Are employers required to keep personnel files?
Answer: Personnel files are not required, but they are highly recommended for several reasons: They are a way of keeping ongoing documentation about how each employee (and the company as a whole) is doing. In addition, they can provide a critical legal defense, in case an allegation is made about discrimination or some other illegal activity on the employer's part.
Question: Are employers required to keep an employee's medical information in a file that is separate from the personnel file?
Answer: Yes. Both the federal ADA and the state disability law require that medical information be kept in a secure location that is separate from the personnel file. In addition, only certain people who have a need to know that information (such as safety inspectors, representatives from enforcement agencies and supervisors with a need to know) may be given access to the information.
Question: If an employee requests permission to view or obtain copies of her personnel records, am I required to drop everything and provide them to her?
Answer: No. In fact, an Oregon law went into effect this year that states that employers have up to 45 days to provide copies of personnel records to employees when they request them. Note, however, that the law does not mention "files," but simply describes "records" as anything used to make employment decisions about the employee. ORS 652.750.
Question: May an employee's payroll records be kept in the personnel file?
Answer: There is nothing to legally prohibit these records from being in a personnel file, as long as no medical information (such as insurance forms) is contained therein. …