Under the act, employers may require that inspection of the personnel file take place at the employer’s place of business and in the presence of a designated employee. Employers may also require the employee or former employee to pay the reasonable cost of copying any part of their personnel file.
This new law applies to all Colorado private employers except for financial institutions chartered and supervised under state or federal law, including banks, trust companies, savings institutions, and credit unions. The law does not apply to public sector employees who already have access to their personnel files under the Colorado Open Records Act.
The act includes a provision defining the term “personnel file” as “the personnel records of an employee … that are used or have been used to determine the employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, or employment termination or other disciplinary action.” The act specifies that a personnel file does not include documents or records:
- required by state or federal law to be maintained in a separate file;
- pertaining to confidential reports from the employee’s previous employer;
- pertaining to an active criminal investigation;
- pertaining to an active disciplinary investigation;
- pertaining to an active investigation by a regulatory agency; and
- identifying a person who made a confidential accusation, as determined by the employer, against the employee requesting the personnel file.
The General Assembly’s stated purpose for this new law is to “foster an environment of open communication between employers and employees” and to “deter frivolous lawsuits against employers.” When the act takes effect, its provisions will be found at Colorado Revised Statutes §8-2-129.
Employees are encouraged to obtain a copy of their personnel file and to inspect it annually. An annual review will ensure that the employee has a complete and up-to-date copy of their file. It will give the employee the opportunity to verify that certain documents, such as kudos from colleagues, customers and clients, or performance evaluations by supervisors, are received by the employer and properly documented in the personnel file. It will also give employees notice if something is in their file that they did not expect to see there.