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Do Employer's Have Right to Keep HR File?

By TomSal ·
Just a hypothetical that popped on my mind related to something that happened at my company. You know how every company keeps an HR folder on each employee? It has all their reviews, filled out job application, any HR benefit forms, company policies that the employee signed, etc...

I'm wondering, does the employer have the right to keep that file and all its contents after you leave the company -- whether your leaving is voluntary or involuntary?

I was just thinking shouldn't the employee have the right to say "and I want my personnel file" when leaving? I mean that's the employee's home address information, that's the employee's SSN number, that's the employee's healthcare information, etc.

I'm posing this question because there was a bit of a **** out about this here about three months ago, but it resurfaced this week. Our executive staff was EXTREMELY displeased when our HR manager "lapsed in duty" (their words) and allowed an employee who was terminated to take their file with them.

I mean the executives were VERY angry. You should of heard them.

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by trockii In reply to Do Employer's Have Right ...

The employee's HR file belongs to the company. I does have personal information that once the employee leaves the company can be blacked out and such, but the employee should NOT get their file. I understand why the executives were upset. They have every right to be. How can you give a recommendation for this employee if you have no performance reports to look back on?

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Good point, how about this though..

by TomSal In reply to No

I can see the point about the employer needing the records for recommendations. Two other follow-up thoughts I have..

1) Do employee's have the right to get a copy of their entire file?

2) Do employee's have the right to request the company black out personal information (like home address, SSN number, etc.) in front of them.

I don't like the idea that you should just leave it up to the company to "black out the information" -- I don't trust folks easily and I'm **** about someone holding my personal information particularly with the increasing ID theft stuff going on and who's to say an employer who is angry (related to your firing) has integrity and keep trusted to do the right thing with your personal information?

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Privacy Information

by BFilmFan In reply to Good point, how about thi ...

If someone releases your private information from a former employer without your consent, there are a number of federal and state laws to deal with them.

If you had insurance through them, they immediately run afoul of HIPAA. Penalties include civil and criminal penalties, which could include jail time.

And having consulted with several insurance clients, i can tell you that firms live in absolute terror of a HIPAA violation.

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If they release

by trockii In reply to Good point, how about thi ...

If they release (whether theft or otherwise) any of your personal information that's grounds for a lawsuit. I think if an employee wants a copy of their file I say give it to them. Take out all sensitive information (performance feedbacks, etc) that could get the ex employee upset at a specific individual in the company. The company have to protect it's current employees. Bosses can't fear writing someone up and then the person fired finds out that's the reason they were terminated and "waits for them outside". It's a sensitive subject. I don't think you have the write to black out your address (it's in most phone books anyways). If you have any problems I am sure your HR person can answer these questions. I am just putting feet in the CEO's shoes. LOL it's nice to dream sometimes.

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yes but...

by jkaras In reply to If they release

the point is how do you prove it was them? It would be nearly impossible, but I do get the other points.

Usually the violent personel acts that way because of improper firing or walking the person without their dignity. There are cases where the person just has mental instability but these snaps are usually from a bad atmosphere or being wronged. Do I condone just snapping? **** no, but treating people like banished servants opens themselves to possible attacks unfortunately.

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performance reviews

by john.a.wills In reply to If they release

When I was a German civil servant I was given a copy of each performance review shortly after it was written, so I could sue the author and have the file corrected if it was inaccurate.

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John when I was doing Government work

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to performance reviews

I got the same thing as well as free access to any details on my file. I know of one worker who sued the department after a car crash and was sent back to work "With Her Physiological Condition Cured" only to have her shoulder collapse several years latter. Apparently the correct follow up was not done from a diagnostic point of view and her Government records where freely provided as evidence.

The work cover people had rushed her back to work without allowing the medical staff to do their job or maybe the medical staff just where not interested but either way they totally destroyed her chances of ever working again.

But I think this is only a "Government Thing" as I've never seen it happen in any other place of employment.


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YOu KNOW they have a record of the information

by Oz_Media In reply to Good point, how about thi ...

If your employer DID try to scam you and even social enginner you, ANY half assed flat-foot investigator is going to ask exactly who has such information before proceeding. THEY have all the information and would most definitely be first in line for investigation.

My question to you Tom, WHAT possible benefit could an employer gain by social engineering former staff members?

For that matter, they could burn your house down or cut your brake lines, but for WHAT and WHY?

I think there is just a wee tad too much paranoia about security and privacy lately, yes there are malicious people in the world, they exist everywhere and not just IT. Revengeful mailce has been around a lot longer than IT and people could have screwed you JUST as easy in other ways all your life. Now that computers are in the mix, people have a paranoia about personal information and even with past employers? You know that your personal information was just as accessible 20 years ago as it is today. Theives have been around since the dawn of time, there are MANY other ways to get such info without having a copy of your information or a computer.

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OZ while I can not talk for over there

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to YOu KNOW they have a reco ...

Over here a company is required to keep these records for 5 years just to comply with the TAX Department Rules. So they have to keep at the very least a copy of these records in a secure manner particuarly with the Privacy Laws that are now in effect.

But what I did find interesting was a US friend showed me just how easy it was to find out information on anyone you wanted to in the US it took him all of 5 minutes to bring up what over here would be considered as Private and Confidential information. Now I certainly do not claim to know much about US laws or other things that go on about this type of thing and maybe this person was even a bit more paranoid than most but he did move to French Polynesia to avoid this from happening but in all honestly I do not think his personal data is any more secure over there either.


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Absolutely they have a right to keep them

by maxwell edison In reply to Do Employer's Have Right ...

You asked, "Does the employer have the right to keep that file and all its contents after you leave the company..."

Not only do they have a right to keep them, but they probably have an obligation to keep them. Especially in today's litigious society, an employer may have the future need to recreate past circumstances, possibly having to explain themselves for certain things, etc. -- at least for a certain amount of time. I think I'd be a little POed as well.

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