What Does Your Personnel File Say About You?

As an employee, you have probably encountered a number of forms and papers that your employer requested that you sign. Many of these forms, as well as other documents, end up in your personnel file. In Michigan, employees have a right to review, copy and put rebuttals in their personnel file. Michigan’s Bullard Plawecki Employee Right to Know Act (“ERKA”), MCL 423.501 et seq., identifies these rights and how they can be exercised.

Under the ERKA, an employee can submit a written request to review his or her personnel file and submit it to the Human Resources Department or a manager. Employee files can be reviewed at a place reasonably near your workplace, during regular working hours. After you have reviewed your personnel file, you can request a copy of anything (or everything) in your personnel file, although the employer can charge for the actual cost of making the copies. If you cannot review your personnel file at your workplace, you can request that your employer mail you a copy of your file.

If you do not agree with information that is contained in your personnel file, the ERKA gives you the right to write a rebuttal or explanatory statement, explaining why the information in your file is inaccurate, and to have your statement placed in your personnel file. Your statement must be included any time the information from your personnel file is given out. Of note, your employer cannot give out information about a disciplinary action in your personnel file to anyone else without first telling you in writing.

There are some limits as to what information you can view. First, you should note that an employer is not required by law to maintain a personnel file, although most employers do maintain some type of file. Under the ERKA, you do not have a right to see references, staff planning documents, or medical records or reports which you could get from your doctor or medical facility. You do not have a right to see personal information about other people, and your access to information about an investigation may be limited. Records which are made by an executive, administrative, or professional employee that are not shared with anyone else also are not required to be disclosed.

The information contained in your personnel file can have an impact on your employment, your wages, and your chances for advancement. Michigan law says you have a right to review your personnel file and make sure that the information is accurate.