Under the Pennsylvania Personnel Files Act, 43 P.S. §§ 1321 – 1324, Pennsylvania workers have the right to view files held by their employers that contains information about themselves.
Who is covered by the law?
The Personnel Files Act applies to all employers in Pennsylvania, including state, local, and county governments. All workers who are currently employed, laid off with reemployment rights, or on leaves of absence are covered.
What am I allowed to see?
It does not have to be a single folder, and it does not matter if the employer calls it a “personnel file.” You have the right to inspect any application for employment, wage or salary information, notices of commendations, warning or discipline, authorization for a deduction or withholding of pay, fringe benefit information, leave records, employment history with the employer, including salary information, job title, dates of changes, retirement record, attendance records and performance evaluations.
Can I see my file after I am laid off or fired?
No – unless you have reemployment rights, a request must be made prior to the time you actually lose the job. You can still make a request for the file if you have been told you are going to be laid off or terminated but it has not happened yet.
Who is allowed to view the file?
You may view the files yourself, or else you can designate someone else in writing as your agent, and that person will have the legal right to view the files on your behalf. Employers can require you or your agent to submit a written request and to name the specific files you want.
When does the employer have to let me see my personnel files?
Employers must make these records available during the regular business hours of the office where the records are usually kept. Employers are not required to make files available more than one time a year, unless you have reasonable cause to see them more frequently. They must give you enough time to review the whole file.
Can I get copies of my personnel files?
You can ask to make copies, and the employer is free to give them to you, but employers are not required to let you have copies. They must let you take notes on what is in the files.
What should I do if the employer refuses to let me see the files?
If you are a union member and your contract spells out what should happen, then you have to follow the contract. Otherwise, you can file a petition with the Pa. Bureau of Labor Law Compliance. They can hold a hearing and they can order the employer to make the file available to you. You can contact the Bureau 1 (800)932-0665 or at RA-LI-SLMR-LLC@pa.gov or you can find the 3-page Complaint form on the website of the Department of Labor and Industry.
What if there is an error in my file?
The Pa. Bureau of Labor Law Compliance can order the employer to let you put a statement in your file giving your side of the story, but the Personnel File Act does not require employers to correct errors.