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Legislative Memo

Frank Kerbein
Director, Center for Human Resources
T 518.465.7511 x210
www.bcnys.org

BILL:

A.1174 (Heastie)

Support

SUBJECT:

Requires access to employee personnel records

 

DATE:

February 1, 2013

 

This bill would amend the state labor law and civil service law and require employers to allow access to employee's personnel records, and require employers to copy or provide the equipment to copy personnel records. The Business Council opposes enactment of this legislation.

Current practice — For years, it has been common practice by private sector employers to give employees access to their individual personnel files and in many cases to copy sections when needed. A state-wide mandate is not necessary.

Most personnel file contents, as defined in this bill, are already available to employees in the course of their day-to-day work.

There certainly are times when employers may include notes, reports or comments about an employee's work or performance in the personnel file. This is a normal human resource related activity and confidentiality of this information is not an unreasonable expectation. Besides, even this information is ultimately available through normal subpoena processes.

Availability to others — The employer has an obligation to safeguard the information in each personnel file. As such, limiting access is an employer responsibility and a reasonable action.

Copy every personnel file every year — This bill, after allowing review of the personnel files by employees, former employees, collective bargaining representatives and attorneys and allowing the copying of the contents by them would also require employers to copy at no charge to the employee the full,  complete personnel file every year, when requested. Then it also requires, when requested, a copy of the material added to the personnel file after the complete copy of the personnel file was provided.

This provision alone would provide a costly drain of time, resources and expense and give employees, groups of employees and especially unions, who may have a disagreement with the employer, a guaranteed source of legal harassment and intimidation.

For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and respectfully urges that it not be enacted.