Effective Date: September 1, 2013 (revised)
To establish guidelines by which information contained in official personnel and/or medical files will be managed to ensure confidentiality and legal compliance.
The Human Resources Department maintains an official personnel file for every active employee. Files of former employees are retained according to document retention periods as defined by law. These files are considered confidential and are locked and secured. Only employees with a legitimate business need may have access to employee files. Managers and other supervisors other than the Human Resources Staff may only have access to the files on a business need-to-know basis.
Each employee’s file contains documents which pertain to that particular individual. The documents for personnel files usually include but are not limited to application materials for employment, performance reviews, personnel authorizations, documentation of commendations received, discipline notices, benefit enrollment/beneficiary forms, verifications of employment, and other miscellaneous personnel actions. Medical files are maintained separately and documents usually include but are not limited to documents and reports prepared by a health care provider or information pertaining to benefits which are related to an employee’s medical history, workers’ compensation and/or FMLA. The Payroll Department maintains a separate file which also includes personnel authorizations relating to pay, tax forms, garnishments, etc.
An employee who disagrees with documented disciplinary action, notice of termination or aspects of a performance evaluation may submit a written statement explaining his or her position. This statement will be maintained as part of the employee’s personnel file and will accompany any transmittal or disclosure from the file.
The Human Resources Department treats employee files as confidential information and access to the file is restricted. Trinity College follows Connecticut state law in regards to employees’ personal information by safeguarding the personal information regarding unauthorized disclosure and properly destroying the information prior to disposal. Personal information is defined broadly as non-public information which is associated with a specific individual through one or more identifiers such as Social Security Number, driver’s license number, a state identification card number, a passport number, and alien registration number, or a health insurance identification number. Some personal information that is not considered confidential is: partial employee birth dates, information used for data reporting that does not list individual data, etc. A standard of reasonableness will apply in all circumstances. Representatives of federal and or state government, auditors, or law enforcement agencies may be allowed access to personnel file information without an employee release. In addition, if information, including personal information, is needed for defending the College in legal proceedings, we have the right to release the information to third parties and/or use the information how we see fit without an employee release. These decisions will be made at the discretion of the Human Resources Director or designee.
Any employee has the right to examine the contents of his or her official personnel and/or medical files not more than seven (7) business days after submitting a Personnel File Access Request Form. An appointment will be scheduled to inspect the files during regular business hours (no walk-in requests will be granted). These inspections are normally limited to no more than two occasions in any calendar year. Personnel files may not be removed from the department and employees shall not remove any documents from their files but may provide a written response to any document. Employees may request copies of documents in their file.
Former employees: Not more than ten business days after receipt of a written request from a former employee, the former employee may inspect, and if requested, receive a copy of his or her personnel file if such a file exists, provided Human Resources receives the written request not later than one year after the termination of the former employee’s employment with the College. The inspection shall take place during regular business hours at a location mutually agreed upon by the College and former employee. If they cannot agree upon a location to conduct such inspection, the College will mail a copy of the former employee’s personnel file to the former employee not more than ten business days after receipt of the written request from the former employee.
Unless authorized by law or having a need to conduct business, Social Security Numbers or other personal information will be redacted, if possible, from all documents that are distributed and/or mailed. Documents that contain personal information shall be properly destroyed when those documents are no longer needed to be retained. When documents are destroyed it will be done in such a manner as to preserve confidentiality (such as shredding). Electronic documents will be safeguarded and made unreadable prior to disposal.
Mishandling of confidential material and information by any employee shall be grounds for discipline, up to and including termination. Any questions can be referred to the Human Resources staff.
See the following policies for additional relevant information:
4.05 Termination of Employment 62
4.09 References and Release of Information 76
5.01 Confidentiality 94
5.05 Corrective Action 108