General discussion


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.

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

Thread display: Collapse - | Expand +

All Comments

Collapse -


by Oz_Media In reply to Absolutely they have a ri ...

What if the employee sues on ground of wrongful dismissal three weeks after being let go?

the company NEEDS supporting documentation, past performance reviews etc.

I would say it should be allowed to ask for a COPY of the paperwork but that's about it.

When you start with a company you give them permission to have and hold such infromation on you with confidence that it will not be used inappropriately.

The company is responsible for anything that happens as a result of them having your records.

Would you let your business licence be revoked due to some retaliation on a former employee? What are they gonna do, clear out your bank account? That's traceable, instantly.

I think it sounds like a disgruntled person, it remonds me of Steve Martin in The Jerk when all he needed before he left was his Thermos....and the lamp....and the...

I have had employees return after three days after being fired to say that it was THEIR stapler they brought to work and they are here to collect it. People get possesive and petty in such situations.

Collapse -


by ND_IT In reply to Absolutely they have a ri ...

Our department created and maintains the company evluation database. That information is vital to the compay if someone is claiming wrongful dismissal. We have had to go back into the database for HR in order to bring up past reviews and anything that was written in their record. I agree with OZ, they should be able ask for a copy, but that's it. How else is the company going to prove that you once were employed there?

Collapse -

Permanent records are permanent.

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

That's why they call them that. Check the contract you sign when you first join a company if you have any questions. I'm sure it specifies that all records the company compiles on you become their property forever.

But once again, this is a legal issue. If you have a legal question, you should ask an attorney, not a bunch of IT experts. ^_^

Collapse -

Some hypotheticals

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

There are any number of reasons why an employer needs to keep this information for reasonably benign purposes. Here are some hypotheticals, just off the top of my head...

-Your employer needs an address to send your last check to.
-If you elect to take COBRA to extend your benefits, they need to pass your information to the administrator.
-If you were involved in any accidents at work, they need to keep track of that for mandatory annual reporting to OSHA.
-Your employer needs this information to create and mail your W-2 to you, or else you can't do your taxes.
-If your new employer calls to verify your dates of employment or your primary responsibilities, they need to have some info to go on.
-I would think that a company would have to keep this info around for auditing purposes and staffing statistics.
-If you were involved in any incident, like the earlier poster mentioned, that has any possibility of becoming litigious, they need to keep that information.
-I imagine that they need to keep your dates of employment for the insurance company in case you had any recent claims.
-Any retirement benefit information needs to be tracked in case you cash out now or try to access it later. Social security, 401K, etc.
-If you have any leave accumulated that you want paid out at your separation, I would imagine that they need to keep track of that, too.
-If you file for unemployment after your separation, the unemployment office would be required to contact your employer to verify dates of employment, pay rate, SSN in order to cut you a check, etc. I would imagine that, if that information doesn't exist, that the benefits would not be as forthcoming.

I have never heard of anyone being able to take the sole originals of their information when they left. I understand the concern with identity theft, but this is one area of exposure that cannot really be erased in any practical way.

Collapse -

excellent points

by trockii In reply to Some hypotheticals

All excellent points. I sure wouldn't want to miss my last paycheck because I blacked out my address and ssn.

Collapse -

What the Feds want...

by Salamander In reply to excellent points

Thanks. I would be wanting that check, too... :)

I got curious and looked it up. Apparently, the US government requires your employer to keep certain information for up to four years. Other state laws may require employers to keep information longer, and I don't know what other countries might require.

Collapse -


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

It should not be acceptable for a company to retain ANY personl identification (SS#, bank account info etc.)after you leave. You performance record etc. should be irrellevant.

If you have a prospective employer call for a reference they could always say, 'we don't have any records of his performance here', might not be in your best interests. But WHY anyone would be so paranoid as to request the company's file on them is what baffles me. I simply don't see what security measure this is at all, the company can't rip off your bank account, that is WAY to traceable.

Many companies have clear policies about how long records are kept and for what purpose, if yours doesn't then perhaps suggest writing one.

I STILL don't see WHY anyone would want to recover an employers records. Personal information should be destroyed or deemed worthless by the company, after they have finished all your taxation and separation paperwork, it is no use to them and most definitely no use to YOU after you leave.

I think the person you are referring to was probably quite pissed off and simply wanted to be a knob. It has no relevance or meaning to it at all, just a petty little thing to be a prick about when leaving.

Sorry, I still don't see the horror behind it.

Now if an employee wants a record of his performance ratings and evaluations, this could and should be copied and provided upon request, then again, performance evaluations should always be given to the employee after the evaluation is conducted, then you just need to hang on to your paperwork.

Sounds petty and useless to me.

Collapse -

Personnel Record in the military

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

All evidence of "who" you were and what you did while you were in that company is (or should be) included in your personnel record.

However, though this is information on you, it BELONGS to your company.

But, you have the legal right to have copies of everything that is contained in that personnel record. If you request the copies, and they refuse to provide them, I would contact a lawyer who should be able to get them for you relatively quickly with a single phone call.

Collapse -

Thanks for the info all..

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

That's why I like throwing questions out on TR, like this one -- I got a lot of good responses and information back. Thanks all.

I personally am not affected by this, I have no issues with my employer regarding keeping my file or not..I was exercising my curiousity based on what I've seen go down here with others. Then I was just trying to play a bit of Devil's Advocate -- which I do often.

Again thanks all.

Related Discussions

Related Forums