A bill requiring Colorado private employers to provide requesting employees with access to inspect and copy their personnel files at least annually has been signed by Governor John Hickenlooper. The bill defines "personnel file" as "the personnel records of an employee, in the manner maintained by the employer and using reasonable efforts by the employer to collect, that are used or have been used to determine the employee's qualifications or employment, promotion, additional compensation, or employment termination or other disciplinary action."

The bill specifies that a "personnel file" does not include:

  • documents required to be placed or maintained in a separate file from the regular personnel file by federal or state law or rule;

  • records pertaining to confidential reports from previous employers;

  • an active criminal or disciplinary investigation, or an active investigation by a regulatory agency; and

  • information which identifies another person who made a confidential accusation against the requesting employee.

The bill also allows a former employee to make a one-time inspection of his or her personnel file after termination of employment. When an employee or former employee reviews his or her personnel file, the review should take place at the employer's office at a time that is convenient to both. The employer may require the presence of another employee designated by the employer when the review takes place.

Notably, the bill does not require an employer "to create, maintain, or retain a personnel file on an employee or former employee." It also does not require an employer to retain documents for a specific period of time. Finally, the bill does not apply to "a financial institution chartered and supervised under state or federal law, including without limitation: (a) a bank; (b) a trust company; (c) a savings institution; and (d) a credit union."

The law takes effect on January 1, 2017. Before then, Colorado employers should review their personnel record-keeping protocols, particularly with respect to documents which may be excluded from an employee's accessible file.

Ballard Spahr’s Colorado-based Labor and Employment attorneys provide counsel and representation to employers on the full range of labor and employment issues, including reviewing policies and practices and defending against claims brought under federal, state, and local discrimination and related laws.

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