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Personnel Files

Ensuring the confidentiality of HR info

Q. I’m the HR director of a 45-employee company and have one assistant. Due to the firm’s growth, I’m considering giving my assistant more responsibility. My concern: The assistant is very friendly with about 10 other employees, two of which are her roommates. What’s to stop her from divulging information to her friends? I have said nothing to her about my concerns yet. What can I express to her without overstepping her legal rights? …

Could a court order force us to compromise our employees’ privacy?

Q. I heard that Google is being forced to hand over YouTube access logs to Viacom as evidence in a copyright suit. This seems like a major privacy issue. Our company provides free health information to our employees over the Internet. Our internal web site users have created employee profiles that include personal information such as their names and e-mail addresses. Could we be forced to hand over our user information if we ever became involved in litigation? …

Prepare for possible changes in employment eligibility verification

Stories of immigration raids and heavy fines are as close as the nearest newspaper. But at the street level, North Carolina employers know they may be caught in the crossfire as federal and state governments increase efforts to weed out illegal and undocumented workers. Although federal law primarily governs immigration issues, North Carolina and some other states are considering implementing employment verification requirements of their own …

What are the rules on employee access to personnel records?


Q. Are we required to allow employees to inspect their personnel files? Must these files be retained at each office (rather than at a centralized location)? …

Fired employee wants termination letter, access to personnel files

Q. An employee we recently terminated has asked us to provide him with a letter explaining the reasons for his termination. He also has asked for a copy of his personnel file. Are we required to respond? …

What’s an employer’s responsibility to provide notification of a data security breach?

Q. We maintain employee personnel information in an HR software program. We have discovered that a former employee hacked into the database and copied 100 employees’ first and last names, addresses, Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers. Do we have to notify the employees? Some of them live and work in Ohio …

The 5 rules for documenting HR decision-making


The best way to prevent lawsuits is to carefully document every employment decision. HR professionals and supervisors should be able to show exactly when a decision was made, who made it and what the basis for the decision was …

I-9 enforcement focuses on criminal arrests, smaller firms

In the past few years, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has focused its enforcement efforts mainly at large-scale immigration raids at big companies. Now that ICE has more trained officers and better coordination with other federal and state agencies, it’s targeting more small businesses, too …

Hold onto those notes! Even accidental destruction can mean trouble

You know it’s crucial to document all disciplinary actions. No doubt, you’ve told managers and supervisors to keep all notes, memos and other paperwork. Those records could be invaluable later if you ever need to show that all your disciplinary decisions were based on good business judgment, performance and other legitimate and relevant reasons …

Simplify Employee Self-Reviews: A 3-Question Template


An important—but often overlooked—step in performance appraisals is to ask employees to grade themselves. But don’t just give them the same appraisal form used by supervisors. Instead, use a separate form that allows them to recap their achievements, identify shortcomings and initiate discussions regarding their development.  A good self-evaluation form asks these three core questions …