- Created on Friday, 19 July 2013 12:18
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Effective October 1, 2013, Connecticut employees will be able to inspect and/or obtain copies of their personnel file more quickly than in the past. Also, employees will now be entitled to copies of any disciplinary documentation, notices of termination, and performance evaluations. They retain the right to refute the contents of any such document, in writing. P.A. 13-176.
Previously, employers were required to let employees inspect their personnel files, or get copies, within a “reasonable period.” This left the time frame ambiguous and made enforcement difficult. Now, employers have seven (7) business days to comply once they receive a written request from a current employee. Requests from former employees must be complied with within ten (10) business days, provided the request is received in writing within one (1) year following termination.
Inspections by current employees must take place during regular business hours at the employer’s location, or one reasonably near such location. Former employees have the right to inspect their file during regular business hours at a location mutually agreed upon by the employer and former employee. If the parties cannot agree on a location, the employer may mail a copy of the former employee’s personnel file to the former employee within ten (10) business days after receipt of the former employee’s written request. Personnel files must be retained by the employer for one year after an employee’s termination.
A separate and new provision requires employers to provide an employee with a copy of “any documentation of any disciplinary action imposed” within one (1) business day after the date of imposing such action. In addition, employers must immediately provide an employee with a copy of any “documented notice” of termination. Further, employers must now include a statement in clear and conspicuous language in any documented disciplinary action, notice of termination, or performance evaluation that the employee may submit a written statement outlining any disagreement the employee may have with the information contained in the employer’s document. A copy of the employee’s statement must be made part of the personnel file and must accompany any transmittal or disclosure of the file to a third party.
Left somewhat ambiguous is whether employers must create documentation when disciplining or terminating an employee. For instance, if an employee is issued a verbal warning, does an employer need to document the warning? Also, does an employer now have to provide a written notice of termination, or is verbal notification enough? For the time being, a strict reading of the statutory language seems to indicate that such documentation does not have to be created, but if it is, then these new rights are triggered. That may change as administrative or judicial rulings emerge in the future.
Given the more onerous requirements, the Act lessens the penalties for non-compliance by making them discretionary, not mandatory, and reducing them from $500 to “up to” $500 for a first violation. Each subsequent violation involving the same employee, or former employee, subjects an employer to penalties up to $1,000.