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HR Quick Takes: Employee Personal Files - October 31, 2019

Q: I fired an employee last week and now they have shown back up and want a copy of their personnel file. Do I have to give it to them?


A: No. Under Iowa law you are not required to provide a personnel file to someone who is not actually currently employed by you. You can decline to provide a personnel file. 


If someone is currently employed, you are required to allow access to the personnel file and that the employee, with appropriate notice, can review the file or receive a copy. You may charge a nominal fee for copying. 


It’s important for employers to make sure personnel files are “clean” and up-to-date. Personnel files should not contain extraneous documentation, such as investigative notes, witness interviews, letters or other correspondence and discussions with your attorney, which would normally be subject to attorney client privilege. Further note that references are excluded from production and you do not need to provide copies of references to either current or prior employees. 

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