Protocols for Personnel Files
Date: May 29, 1997
Define protocols for individuals reviewing personnel records.
Pursuant to the Illinois Personnel Record Review Act 820 ILSC 40/.01 and other legal standards, state employees must be provided access to all “official personnel records.” Official personnel records are comprised of any documents that are retained by HRS or by the hiring department for purposes of reference, evaluation, and/or other performance-related issues. Any records utilized in determining merit, substantiation of discipline, or which are otherwise maintained for future reference, must be collected into an organized filing system that is accessible to employees with reasonable notice.
The university has no obligation to provide employees with free copies of materials in their personnel file. However, employees should be provided the opportunity to make copies of these materials at their own expense. Employee personnel records are the property of the university. Consequently, while access must be provided, employees may not remove materials from the file without permission. It is appropriate to have a monitor present in the event that there is a concern that an employee might attempt to remove materials from the file. All employee personnel records are confidential and must be maintained so as to prevent unauthorized access.
Supervisors and other administrative officers who are responsible for the maintenance of personnel records are expected to maintain those records in an appropriate and well-managed fashion. Employment records are typically maintained in chronological order. Materials that departments or supervisors are unprepared to share with employees should not be present in the departmental or college/divisional files.
If you have any questions regarding personnel files, please contact the Contract, Records and Reports department at 753-1338. Following is a general guideline pertaining to different aspects of the personnel records.
Locations and Sources of Official University Personnel Files
Human Resource Services
The official personnel records for the university are maintained in Human Resource Services. Inquiries regarding confirmation of employment should be forwarded to Human Resource Services, Contracts, Records and Reports department. Human Resource Services’ files include resumes, transcripts, and other information required by state and federal law. Evaluation materials for SPS and Civil Service employees are also maintained in Human Resource Services.
Departmental files are also considered official university employment records. These files include records of merit and performance rating documentation, relevant disciplinary documentation, and other records associated with departmental oversight responsibilities. Departmental files typically involve a wider variety of specific information than is contained in the Human Resource Services records. Departmental files should not contain notes or commentaries that are unrelated to legitimate operational or academic interests. Employees have access to all materials contained in the departmental files.
College and divisional offices also maintain personnel files. These are typically related to increment records, merit ratings and evaluations, academic productivity, and other matters for which the college or divisional office maintains administrative oversight. Employees have access to all materials contained in these files.
Supervisory Employment-Related Notes and Reminders
Consistent with applicable law, supervisors may maintain separate records comprised of anecdotal notes and reminders pertaining to various employment issues. To the extent that such records are applicable to the substantiation of discipline, evaluation, or other personnel decisions, employees may have access to materials in these reference files.
University Grievance Appeal Procedures
A number of internal faculty and staff appeal procedures have been established under the university constitution and through personnel committee guidelines. The academic personnel procedures provide for specific roles for department chairs, departmental personnel committees, college deans, college personnel committees, and finally the Executive Vice President & Provost, the University Council personnel committee, and the President. Other procedures relate to the SPS and Civil Service staff grievance and appeals processes. Any internal appeal procedure which results in a deliberation process and in associated written records will result in personnel records that are accessible by the involved employees. Such records are maintained in HRS and by the respective personnel committees.
Unless limited by law or specific agreement with the employee affected, official university personnel files are accessible by the employee to which they pertain. Employees have the right to review only their own records. In cases involving information of a personal nature about a person other than the employee, the right to inspect records is inapplicable if disclosure would be a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy. Records used in support of discipline are generally accessible to the employee involved.
Records Which Are Not Generally Accessible to Employees
Confidential records are maintained in the General Counsel’s office regarding complaints, litigation, investigations, attorney correspondence, conflict of interest disclosures, insurance, internal records of the Board of Trustees, and other legal matters. Legal records are privileged and are not accessible for review by individuals or representatives.
Affirmative Action Office Records
Confidential records are maintained in the Affirmative Action Office, and by associated staff members, regarding employee complaints and investigations. Such records are available exclusively for use by the University until an adverse personnel action based on information in such records is initiated by the University. Subject to appropriate privacy considerations and applicable law, investigation reports and associated documentation may be available for review by the parties to a complaint.
Collective Bargaining Records
Employment records associated with employees who are members of a certified bargaining unit are accessible only to the extent provided for in the respective collective bargaining agreement. Notice and documentation associated with negotiation and grievance activity are privileged materials which are inaccessible except to the extent that such records would be utilized in relation to disciplinary processes.
Employee Wellness and Assistance
The Employee Wellness and Assistance (EWAP) office maintains records in relation to contacts made with that office. Such records are privileged and are not available for review except to the extent that a formal release is authorized by the respective employee.
The Office of the Ombudsman maintains minimal numerical records in relation to contacts made with that office. Such records are confidential and are not available for review in the context of any specific individual or case.
Faculty Personnel Advisor
University Resources for Women
Other Resource Offices
The Faculty Personnel Advisor and the several resource centers whose missions include facilitation, resolution, and problem-solving activities throughout the University maintain notes and records associated with employee issues.
- Memorandum 820 ILSC 40/.01