- Are Employers Required to Give Employees Copies of Personnel Files?
- March 27, 2015
- Law Firm: Dysinger Patry LLC - Tipp City Office
- Ohio law does not generally require that private employers provide their employees copies of their own personnel file unless there is an employment contract, employee handbook or collective bargaining agreement that says otherwise.
However, Ohio law does require that private employers provide copies of Medical Records and Wage and Hour Records to employees in response to an employee's request.
Private employers are required to give employees copies of their Medical Records and the employer cannot charge more than 25 cents per page for these copies. (E.G. Medical records from a physical examination that is required for employment or stemming from a job-related injury or disease.)
Ohio Revised Code 4113.23(A) states:
No employer - shall refuse upon written request of an employee to furnish to the employee or former employee or their designated representative a copy of any medical report pertaining to the employee. The requirements of this section extend to any medical report arising out of any physical examination by a physician or other health care professional and any hospital or laboratory tests which examinations or tests are required by the employer as a condition of employment or arising out of any injury or disease related to the employee’s employment.
Ohio Revised Code 4113.23(D) goes further stating that "[a]ny employer who refuses to furnish the reports to which an employee is entitled is guilty of a minor misdemeanor for each violation." Accordingly, private employers may wish to review handbooks and policies to ensure their policies and guidelines are consistent with this requirement and Ohio law.
Wage & Hour Records
Ohio law also requires that private employers provide employees their own Wage and Hour Records following a request; employers cannot charge research/service fees, copy fees or other fees in complying with the request. Typically, the employer also has 30 days to produce the records following an employee's request.
Ohio Revised Code 4111.14(G) requires that employers provide:
- Pay Rate, (an employee’s base rate of pay or annual salary - it does not include bonuses, stock options, incentives, deferred compensation, or any other similar form of compensation);
- Each amount paid, (total gross wages paid to the employee for each pay period); and
- Hours worked each day, (total amount of time an employee works during a day in whatever increments an employer uses for its payroll purposes. This is not required for exempt employees).
The foregoing requirement applies to any request made by an employee or a person acting on an employee’s behalf (union representative, attorney, or parent, guardian, or legal custodian).
An employer may require that the request be in writing, signed by the employee, notarized, and that it reasonably specifies the particular information being sought.
Federal and State Employees and Other Considerations
Federal law specifically authorizes federal employees to review their own personnel records. State or local government employees may review and copy their personnel records under the Ohio Public Records Act.
From a litigation standpoint, providing personnel file information can make employers uneasy and for good reason. Accordingly, many employers do not like to provide information unless they are required to provide this information by law.
That being said and subject to the next two paragraphs' warnings, in certain circumstances, providing the information may be useful in avoiding an adversarial proceeding, such as a lawsuit. If the information to be provided in response to a request is harmless and would serve to satisfy the employee's curiosity, it may be a better option than summarily declining requests for copies.
Employers should not provide copies of personnel files without careful consideration of the potential consequences. Further, the employer would be well served to include their attorney in the decision, including having their attorney review the information sought and the complete personnel file.
It's been my experience that when an employee is requesting a copy of their personnel file, the request is often the result of the employee's dissatisfaction with the employer. Accordingly, the possibility of litigation should be considered in conjunction with any employee's request for copies of their personnel file. If a meaningful risk of litigation exists, employers may wish to share the request with their attorney even if employer will decline employee’s request for copies of their personnel file.