Official Personnel Folder - Information Practices Act
It is the policy of the Department of General Services (DGS) that records of the Office of Human Resources (OHR) are open to public inspection at all times during normal working hours. Every person has the right to inspect any record except those that are exempted from public disclosure by statute or other authority.
Copies of records will be provided to any person with authorized access by OHR. The fee for this service may not exceed the direct cost of duplication. This includes the cost of operating the copy machine and the cost of the machine operator. Any reasonable portions of a record shall be provided after deletion of the portions that are exempted by law.
Records will not be removed from custody of the Personnel Officer or employee having responsibility for them. OHR reserves the right to be physically present during the inspection of any records.
Persons found guilty of stealing, willfully destroying, mutilating, defacing, altering or falsifying, removing or secreting, the whole or any part of such a record, map, book, paper or proceeding, or who permits any other person to do so, are punishable by imprisonment in state prison, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding $1000, or by both fine and imprisonment (Government Code [GC] section 6220-6201).
See “Public Record Inspection Guidelines” (GS 17) posted in the OHR reception area for further information.
The term “personal information” means any information that is maintained by an agency that identifies or describes an individual, including, but not limited to, his/her name, social security number, physical description, home address, home telephone number, education, financial matters, and medical or employment history.
Personnel files contain employment records maintained by an employer for the purpose of administering benefits, providing training, and maintaining the employment history of employees for continued employment and/or promotional opportunities.
GC section 6254(c), Civil Code section 1798, and Penal Code section 832.7 an 502 protect the confidentiality of personnel records and strictly limit their disclosure. Locked files and appropriate physical safeguards shall be established by the Personnel Officer to ensure the security and confidentiality of personnel records.
OPF CONTENTS AND RETENTION
OPF material shall be maintained no longer than the period of time required by law and in accordance with the approved departmental retention period established for the record. The OPF Purging Chart provides guidance for items that may be in the employee’s OPF.
The following information is subject to review, upon request, as the items are considered public under the Public Records Act:
- Reporting unit
- Reporting location and telephone number
- Classification and specifications for the position
- Assignment (duty statement)
- Salary range (gross salary rate)
- Time base
- Date appointed or separated
- Rehire information
- Training received
REQUEST FOR ADDRESSES
When an inquiry is made about the address of a former employee, the following actions should be taken:
- Letters written to DGS may be forwarded to the last known address of the former employee. The person who inquired shall be notified of the action taken, but not provided the address where the letter was forwarded.
- When a former employee’s telephone number is available, s/he may be contacted by telephone and advised that the party is attempting to contact him/her.
- The courtesy of trying to locate a former employee should be limited to matters involving DGS business.
- The last known address or telephone number can be disclosed to a district attorney for a criminal case or the Attorney General’s Office for a civil case involving the DGS. This should only be done with positive identification of the requestor. Such verification can be accomplished by a written request from, or a telephone call to, the agency to verify the authenticity of the telephone call.
REQUEST FOR AMENDMENT/REMOVAL OF CONTENTS
Employees may request that certain documents be amended and/or removed from their individual OPF, which could affect his/her status or rights, if s/he believes the information is not accurate, relevant, timely, or complete and/or in accordance with the approved departmental retention period established for the records. Employees requesting documents be amended and/or removed from their OPF must complete a Request to Amend/Remove Document(s) from OPF (DGS OHR 16) form and submit the form to their assigned Personnel Specialist for review.
The Personnel Specialist responsible for maintaining the record will notify him/her, within 30 days after receipt of the request, that corrections or removal have been made as requested or that all or part of the request has been rejected. Reasons for refusing to amend or remove the record will be given.
If the employee disagrees with the refusal to amend or remove any part of his/her record, s/he is entitled to request an agency review. The employee must submit his/her request for a review in writing to the Personnel Officer. The request must include the following information:
- Copy of the original request for amendment or removal of his/her record.
- Copy of the notification of denial of his/her request, with the Department official’s reasons for refusing to amend or remove his/her record.
- His/her reasons for disagreeing with the refusal, and any additional information.
If the agency review concludes that all or part of his/her request for amendment or removal should not be granted, the notification will include a statement of reasons for the refusal. S/he is entitled to file a statement of disagreement if s/he does not agree with the agency review decision. His/her statement should be of reasonable length (usually not more than one or two pages), specifying the amendment or removal requested and giving reasons why each amendment or removal should be made. His/her statement of disagreement is sent to the Personnel Officer.
His/her statement of disagreement, together with DGS’ statement of reasons for refusing to amend or remove the record, will be made a part of his/her record and copies will be made available to persons or agencies to whom the disputed information is disclosed.
REVIEW OF OPF
In accordance with GC Section 18573 and Civil Code Section 1798, employees may access and review any records maintained in their OPF including adverse actions. In addition, an OPF may be reviewed and accessed by an individual designated by the employee (with the possession of a signed release) and presentation of proper identification.
Written authorization to review an OPF must contain an original signature unless it states that a copy is as valid as the original. File contents may be reviewed only in the presence of authorized OHR staff. Individuals, with the exception of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) investigators, will be required to sign the “Personal/Confidential Information Disclosure Log” specifying the purpose of the OPF review. An OPF may not be removed from the OHR.
Note: Anyone who wishes to view an OPF must make arrangements with the Personnel Specialist prior to its review.
An employee may inspect personal information about her/himself if the request is for a specific record and it is feasible to retrieve the record by individual name or other method of identification assigned to the individual.
Official records of administrative hearings and records used for statistical purposes only, are not covered by the Information Practices Act. Individuals are not authorized by law to inspect certain kinds of information, including, but limited to:
- Information maintained for criminal law enforcement.
- Information maintained for the purpose of investigating specific violations of state law, until after the investigation and remedial action, if any, are completed.
- Information that would compromise the objectivity or fairness of a test or examination.
- Medical, psychiatric, or psychological information, if the person responsible for holding the record determines that disclosure would be medically or psychologically detrimental to the individual.
- Any information required by statute to be withheld from the individual to whom it pertains.
- Personal information about other individuals.
- The names of sources of personal information, when confidentiality is authorized or required.
Refer to the individual bargaining unit agreements pertaining to travel expenses and time required to review OPFs. In lieu of personal attendance, an employee may request that copies of the OPF be mailed to his/her work location marked “Personal and Confidential.”
OFFICE OF HUMAN RESOURCES
Employees responsible for the collection, maintenance, use and dissemination of information about individuals, which relates to their personal life, including their employment and medical history, financial transactions, marital status and dependents, for example, shall comply with the provisions of the Information Practices Act.
Employees shall not require individuals to disclose personal information, which is not necessary and relevant to the lawful State function for which the employee is responsible.
Employees shall make every reasonable effort to see that inquiries and requests by individuals for their personal records are responded to quickly and without requiring the individual to unnecessarily repeat his/her inquiry to others.
Employees shall assist individuals who seek information pertaining to themselves in making their inquiry sufficiently specific and descriptive so as to facilitate locating the records requested.
Employees shall respond to inquiries from individuals, and requests from them to review, obtain copies of, amend, correct or dispute their personal records in a courteous and businesslike manner, and in accordance with Sections 1798.30 through 1798.42 of the Civil Code.
Employees shall not disclose personal information relating to individuals to unauthorized persons or entities. The improper disclosure of personal information may be cause for disciplinary action.
Employees responsible for maintenance of records containing personal information shall take all necessary precautions to assure that proper administrative, technical and physical safeguards are established and followed in order to protect the confidentiality of records containing personal information, and to ensure that such records are not disclosed to unauthorized individuals or entities.
When a DGS hiring supervisor/manager conducts interviews for the purpose of filling a vacancy, s/he shall have the prospective employee complete an Authorization to Release Information (DGS OHR 18) form.
Any employer outside DGS must present some form of authorization with an original signature to release information document prior to viewing the DGS employee's OPF.
SUPERVISOR'S WORKING FILE (POLICY AND GUIDELINES)
It is the policy of DGS for only supervisors to establish and maintain a working file for their employee(s). The supervisor’s employee working file shall include only information directly related to an employee’s work performance on the job.
All division supervisor employee working files must be purged of inappropriate material and moved to a location consistent with the security safeguards set forth by this established policy.
Failure to comply with the above policy and directive may result in further investigation and/or actions taken based on the laws and regulations. Appropriate disciplinary action may be taken against parties found in violation of applicable laws and regulations, including, but not limited to the following:
- Termination of employment
- Misdemeanor charge and fine of not more than $5,000
- Imprisonment of not more than one year
OHR will conduct random and continuous audits of supervisor and manager employee working files in all DGS offices to ensure compliance and identify any needed modifications.
Working files must be in the custody of the employee’s supervisor ONLY!
Working files must be in a locked area with appropriate physical safeguards established to ensure the security and confidentiality of the information that is enclosed. Such files should be in an area where they are not subject to perusal by persons who have no legitimate business need to view them.
Warning: Do not keep files:
- on desk tops
- in cardboard boxes
- in an unsecured area
- on unlocked computer equipment
If a supervisor has inappropriate documents in his/her employee working file, the documents should be:
- sent to confidential destruct
- sent to OHR for filing or confidential destruct
If you have any questions regarding specific document(s) contact your Classification and Pay (C&P) Analyst.
RIGHTS OF EMPLOYEE TO SUPERVISOR'S WORKING FILE
Upon request, an employee has the right to inspect information about themselves in records maintained by DGS or its agents.
Warning: Civil action against an agency or its agent can be taken if:
- The request to inspect his/her file is refused.
- Information contained in the file is irrelevant/unrelated to the employee’s work performance or inaccurate and incomplete, and as such, causes adverse effects to the individual.
- Failure to comply with the guidelines set forth by the Information Practices Act, and as such, causes adverse effects to the employee.
ELECTRONIC EMPLOYEE RECORDS
A supervisor can only retain electronic employee records as defined under “Appropriate job-related information for retention.”
APPROPRIATE EMPLOYEE JOB-RELATED INFORMATION FOR RETENTION
Refer to the appropriate bargaining unit contract for rank and file employees. The contract provides specific material acceptable for a working file.
Note: Bargaining units that do not identify materials which may be kept in a working file or those employees excluded from bargaining, refer to the list of acceptable items below:
- Employee’s job application (with address and social security numbers removed)
- Report of performance
- Signed essential functions duty statement
- Physical description of the position form
- Training requested/received documentation
- Emergency information/physician designation form (a telephone number to be used to “call back” or to cancel pre-authorized overtime prior to the employee reporting to work, may be retained, or in the event of illness or injury to contact the designated person)
- Individual Development Plan
- Leave balances and related information, i.e., alternate work schedule calendar, vacation/annual leave requests (any medical information shall be sent to OHR medical file; retention in working files is unauthorized EXCEPT for leave of absence request, temporary limited duty, or Family Medical Leave Act requests for time keeping purposes only – at the end of the leave or temporary limited duty; forward to OHR for placement in the employee’s medical file)
- Work performance and conduct documentation, such as formal and informal counseling memorandums, as long as the employee has full knowledge of these documents
- Subject to Proper Placement (STPP) form; a copy of this form or reasonable accommodation approval(s), if applicable to the employee, may be retained in the working file
INAPPROPRIATE EMPLOYEE JOB-RELATED INFORMATION
Inappropriate employee job-related information in a supervisor employee working file is defined as “information of a personal nature unrelated to the employee’s job or work performance,” which includes information such as:
- A physical description of the employee
- Employee’s home address (a telephone number to be used in case of emergency, to “call back” or to cancel pre-authorized overtime prior reporting to work, in the event of illness or injury to contact the designated person may be retained)
- Financial information (i.e., garnishments; child support; SDI; disability payments; credit reports; bankruptcy; workers’ compensation settlement; etc.)
- Medical history information (i.e., FMLA or TLD, except as noted above); medical reports [STD 910, STD 610 & 2066]; workers’ compensation information
- State Controller’s (SCO) employment history information (i.e., SCO print out, copy of PAR, etc.)
Below are examples of inappropriate material that must be purged from the supervisor or manager employee working file:
- Health Insurance forms
- Dental Insurance forms
- Direct Deposit forms
- Flex-Elect forms
- Health questionnaire/medical (STD 610, STD 910, SPB 2066)
- Employment verifications
- State Controller’s Office employment history information
- Workers’ compensation documents – (send to the Return-to-Work Coordinator (RTWC)
- A copy of any doctor notes can be retained by the supervisor or manager during the period of illness or injury (i.e., any and all doctors notes should be sent either to RTWC or OHR Medical files)
NOTE: Be aware that the above list identifies a small number of documents inappropriate for a supervisor or manager working file and should not be considered all inclusive
RELEVANCE AND NECESSITY OF INFORMATION IN SUPERVISOR'S WORKING FILE
Before including information in a working file, a supervisor should ask the following simple questions. They will assist you in determining if the information should be retained in the working file:
- How will I use the information?
- Will it impair my supervisory responsibilities if I did not have it?
- How would the employee feel if they were to review the information contained in the file?
UPON EMPLOYEE SEPARATION
Upon employee separation (retirement, transfer to another agency, adverse action), the employee’s supervisor shall destroy (shred) all documents in the “working” file. If the employee should reinstate to a position under the same supervisor as previously employed, the supervisor shall established a new file, which will not include any prior information.
Responsible Control Agency
- Each State Agency, Department, Board and/or Commission
Laws and Regulations
- Civil Code Section 1798 et seq. (Information Practices Act), 56 et seq.
- Government Code section 6254(c), 6250-6254, 18573, 11015.5, 11019.9, 14740-14768, 6200-6201, 19589
- Health and Safety Code 123100-123149.5
- Penal Code Section 832.7, 502 (Computer Data Access and Fraud Act)
Other Resource Materials
- Bargaining / Contracts
- Personal/Confidential Information Disclosure Log
Department of General Services
Office of Human Resources
West Sacramento, CA 95605