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What if an employee wants to see his personnel file?

As an Illinois employment defense lawyer, helping my clients reduce their risk is an important goal. In Illinois, employers need to know what rights their employees have so they don’t step afoul of the law. You can contact me, Chicago employment lawyer Rhonda Stuart, if you want to discuss your employment law questions.

Illinois employees have the right to access their personnel files under certain circumstances. If you are am employer with 5 or more employees (exclusive of the employer’s parent, spouse or child or other members of his immediate family), the Illinois Personnel Record Review Act [get PDF of the Act here] applies.

  • Right to review: According to the Act, the employee – or a person who was an employee within the last year – must submit a request in writing and must be allowed to review and copy their documents.
  • Frequency of review and copy: An employee can inspect or copy his file up to two times in a calendar year. The employer must comply within 7 days of the request. The time period can be extended for an additional 7 days with good cause.

While many employers might think this is a matter to be handles by HR without the need for attorney involvement, this is a mistake. An employee’s personnel file should be reviewed by counsel before it is disclosed to make sure that the employer’s record keeping complies with its legal obligation.