Employees in Illinois have the right to review their personnel files, have copies, and insert rebuttal statements.

If you have a union, you have many more rights. Your contract may give you additional rights about your personnel file, especially to fight to remove documents which are unfair or outdated. Ask a shop steward or representative. Personnel files can be very important during a grievance or discipline.

How to ask to review your file:  it is usually best to ask in writing and keep a copy. Then you have proof of your request. You can use the sample form on this page. You can also read “How to Review Your File and What to Expect."

The rules:

  • You have a right to review their personnel files within 7 days of making a request, during their normal work day and at, or near, their workplace.
  • You can request copies of all or part of your file. Your boss can charge for the actual cost of making the copies.
  • Your boss can require you to fill out a form to request to review your personnel file. It’s a good idea to request in writing anyway. You can use the form on this page, if your boss doesn’t have one.
  • You can review their file two times in each calendar year.
  • If you don’t agree with something in your personnel file, you should first ask that the information be taken out of your file or corrected. If it’s not, you can put “rebuttal or explanatory statements” (explaining why the information is inaccurate) in the file to respond to information you don’t agree with. Your statement must be kept in the personnel file and included anytime the information from your personnel file is given out. You can use the form on this page when you submit a rebuttal statement.
  • Employees do not have a right to see tests, planning documents, references, or investigation documents.

NOTE: This law also says that your employer cannot collect information about your activities outside of work (political, religious, non-work-related) without your consent.

What workers are covered by the law:

  • All employees, both private sector and public, when there are at least 5 employees;
  • Former employees who left their jobs within one year;
  • Employees on layoff or leave.

The law: Personnel Record Review Act. 820 Illinois Revised Statute 40/2-12

How the law is enforced: The Illinois Department of Labor enforces this law. Employees who are denied the rights under this law, can file a complaint. Personnel Records Review Information: (312) 793-1805

If you have a union, you have many more rights if your rights are violated. Talk to a shop steward or union representative.