June 30, 2016

New Colorado Law Gives Employee Access to Personnel Files

On June 10, 2016, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law House Bill 16-1432 that requires employers to allow current and former employees to inspect and copy their personnel files. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2017.

Under HB 16-1432 current employees are entitled to inspect and copy their own personnel file at least once per year. An inspection of records must be done at the employer’s office and at a “convenient” time for the employer and employee. Former employees may conduct one inspection of their personnel file after termination of employment. The employer may require that any inspection of personnel files take place in the presence of a person designated by the employer (e.g., the human resources manager). The employer may charge the employee or former employee for the reasonable cost of copying the documents.

“Personnel file” is defined as the employee’s personnel records that are used or that have been used to determine the employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, discipline, or termination. It does not include documents that are required to be placed or maintained in a separate file under state or federal law; confidential reports from prior employers; active criminal investigations, disciplinary investigations, or regulatory agency investigations; or documents that identify a person who made a confidential accusation, as determined by the employer, against the employee.

The new law expressly does not create a private right of action by an aggrieved employee or former employee and does not require an employer to create, maintain, or retain a personnel file or retain any particular documents for any specified period of time.

In preparation for the January 1, 2017, effective date of the new law, Colorado employers may consider doing the following:

  • Establish a protocol for complying with personnel file inspection requests
  • Train managers and supervisors regarding the requirements of the new law and the process by which the company handle inspection requests
  • Ensure that personnel files contain documents that should be there and do not contain documents that are excluded from the law’s definition of “personnel file” (e.g., I-9 forms, protected medical information, workers’ compensation documents, etc.)
  • Ensure the company’s record retention policy with regard to personnel files is compliant and implemented pursuant to applicable law

For more information, contact Jason Resnick at (949) 885-2253.