The Massachusetts personnel record law, M.G.L. chapter 149, § 52C, allows a current or former employee to get a copy of their personnel file.
The law requires an employer to give access to personnel records to employees and former employees upon written request. This applies to all employers. However, for employers with 20 or more employees, the law requires that they include a particular list of information in the file, which includes:
- The name, address, date of birth, job title and description
- Rate of pay (i.e. salary or hourly rate) and any other compensation paid to the employee
- Starting date of employment
- The job application of the employee, including resumes or other similar documents submitted in response to the employer’s advertisement for an open position
- All performance evaluations
- Evidence of substandard performance in the workplace, including written warnings
- Lists of probationary periods, waivers signed by the employee, copies of dated termination notices, and any other documents relating to disciplinary action of the employee
Regardless of the size of the company, the employer must respond within five business days of an employee’s written request submission. It must provide the employee with a paper copy of her personnel record AND the opportunity to view her records at the place of employment during business hours.
Even if the employee is no longer working, the employer is still required to maintain personnel records. The Massachusetts personnel records prevents employers with more than 20 employees from throwing away or deleting information from the personnel file until three years after the date that the employee quits. So, a former employee can also request and receive their personnel records under this law.
An employer with 20 or more employees must also maintain any portion relevant to a pending administrative or court case, even if that exceeds three years. This means that if an employee brings a claim against his employer for a matter covered under the Wage Act–such as unpaid wages. for example–the employer is required to have all documentation from the personnel file relevant to the employee’s compensation arrangement.
The request needn’t be anything fancy. You can simply write to your current and former employer saying, “I am writing to request my personnel records from my employment with [ABC Company]. Please send a complete copy of my personnel record to my attention at [address] within five days of this letter as specified in M.G.L. c. 149, § 52C.” Updated 12/17/2021: According to the Supreme Judicial Court, an employer cannot file an employee for requesting their personnel file.