Arizona Law on Personnel Files

arizona law on personnel filesInformation on an employee within their personnel file is important. It allows employers to track tenure, salary, vacation time and more. But when files are handled inappropriately, it can become a violation of Arizona employment law.

Gone are the days of an entire room full of filing cabinets that hold personnel files for all employees within a company. Most employee records are kept digitally now, but that doesn’t make them any less important. Documenting the right things within an employee’s personnel file is crucial to compliance with Arizona employment laws.

Files from Interviews

Personnel file laws extend to files on individuals who never become employees. This means that when you interview someone and write down your reasons for liking or disliking them as a candidate, those notes must follow the law. Be aware of notes that make discriminatory claims, such as:

  • Body weight
  • Religion
  • Personal beliefs
  • Gender
  • Race

These sorts of claims for not hiring someone can all come back to haunt you as an employer. Your notes should be factual and based off of what the candidate said in the interview or stated on their cover letter and resume.

Information from background checks and references should also be kept secure. Background checks often include personally identifiable information in them that you wouldn’t want handled incorrectly.

Unsubstantiated Claims

There are times when an employee will bring forward concerns about the conduct of another employee, whether that be due to harassment, discrimination or business misconduct. Unless you have thoroughly researched these claims and found validity to them, you cannot place information about them in the employee’s file.

This protects employees from having gossip or other harmful mistruths placed in their file. As the employer, you must prove the claims to be true before ever making note of them in an employee’s file. Likewise, there should be no consequences for the reporting employee and so these notes do not need to be placed within their personnel record either.

Security of Personnel Records

Employers must keep all personnel records secure. There should be checks and balances for who has access to personnel records and a log for when those records are viewed.

The move toward digital records has made it easier to keep track of who has viewed a personnel record as this can all be done in the background. But security in keeping those records private can be more difficult with digital records.

Hackers can seek to hold your records hostage and require you to pay a ransom to release your own private information. That’s why it’s crucial to protect personnel records from anyone who seeks to use them for harm, including other employees within your organization.

Seeking Legal Help in Creating a Policy

To avoid lawsuits or fines for improperly handling personnel records, you should have policies in place to protect personnel files. Understanding all of the Arizona employment laws around personnel files though can be confusing and daunting.

An attorney can review your current policies and procedures to ensure alignment with the law. This is your best security for ensuring that your policies meet or exceed all standards for security.

If you’re facing a lawsuit for improperly handling personnel files, an attorney can help defend your company. This could help in the case of an employee or potential employee bringing up charges against an employer. Good documentation can ensure that you aren’t charged for things you don’t deserve.

So personnel filing policies should not only be centered around what not to document, but also what needs to be documented in case of someone questioning your policies and procedures in the hiring, ongoing employment and firing that takes place at your organization.

Click here for information on Arizona sexual harassment laws.