July 30, 2013

There is a new rule in Connecticut concerning employee access to personnel files.  It will take effect on October 1, 2013.  HR people should be advised now so that appropriate compliance plans can be made.

CGS 31-128a, et. seq. contains the Connecticut Personnel Files Act.  Under the Act prior to its amendment, employers must “within a reasonable time after receipt of a written request from an employee, permit such employee to inspect and copy his personnel file under the conditions set forth in the Act”.  Requirements regarding maintenance and retention of the files are set forth as well as a procedure for resolving disputes about the contents of the file.

Under a bill just signed into law by the Governor, the Act has been amended effective October 1, 2013.  Changes are as follows:

An employer will have seven (7) business days (instead of a “reasonable time”) after receipt of a written request and ten (10) business days after receiving a written request from a former employee to inspect and request a copy of his or her personnel file.   For the former employee, the request must come within one year of the date of termination.  An employer can comply with this section by mailing a copy of the personnel file within the same time frame if the employer and former employee cannot agree “upon a location to conduct such inspection”.

A copy of any documentation of any disciplinary action must be provided to the employee within one business day after imposing such action and an employer must now “immediately provide an employee with a copy of any documented notice of that employee’s termination of employment at the time of termination.”   There is no stated requirement for documentation in either case.  However, if there is such documentation, it must to be given to the employee as set forth in the Law.

Employers must now include a statement in clear and conspicuous language in any documented disciplinary action, notice of termination, or performance evaluation if the employee disagrees with any of the information contained in such documented disciplinary action, notice of termination or performance evaluation, the employee may submit a written statement explaining his or her position.  Any such employee statement must be included in the personnel file.

Amendment to CGS 31-69a(b) will allow the Connecticut Department of Labor to establish an appropriate fine (up to $500) for any first violation. In doing so, the DOL is to consider “all factors which the commissioner deems relevant” including the level necessary to achieve immediate compliance, the character and degree of the violation, and any prior history of the employer.

If you have any questions, feel free contact Charles Tusa or Jonathan Wells.