All employees in Michaigan can review, copy, and put rebuttals in their personnel file.

If you have a union, you have many more rights. Your union contract may give you additional rights, including to remove unfair or out-dated information. Ask a shop steward or representative. Personnel files can almost always be reviewed during a grievance or discipline. Information in your file can be very important during discipline or promotion.

What workers are covered by the law:

  • private sector employers with more than 4 employees
  • public sector employees
  • former employees (after you leave a job)

The rules:

  • you can review your file (if your employer keeps a personnel record for you) two times each calendar year.
  • you have to request to review your personnel records, in writing, with a description of what you want to see. You can use the sample request on this page. Keep a copy so you can show that you asked.
  • you can review your files at a place reasonably near your workplace, during normal office hours. If reviewing your files during normal office hours would make you take time off from work, then you can have some other reasonable time for the review. Your boss may allow the review to take place at another time or location that would be more convenient to you.
  • After you review your files, you can have a copy of anything (or everything) in your files.
  • You can only be charged the actual costs of making the copies.
  • If you can show that you cannot review your files at your workplace, your boss has to mail you a copy of your file, after you ask in writing. (You can use the sample form on this page.)
  • 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. Your rebuttal statement can be 5 pages (8.5x11).
  • You do not have a right to see references, staff planning documents, medical reports which you can get from the doctor or medical facility, personal information about other people, information about an investigation or grievance, and records made by an executive, administrative, or professional employee that are not shared with anyone else.
  • A record about something that happened or a fact about you can be put in your personnel record within six months.
  • Your boss cannot give out information about a disciplinary action to any body else, without first telling you in writing (unless you have given written permission).
  • Your boss must review your record before giving it to anyone else. Unless legally required to give the information, your boss has to remove information about discipline, including letters of reprimand, which are more than 4 years old.
  • If your boss is investigating because s/he reasonably believes that you are engaged in criminal activity that might hurt the business or property, then your boss can have a separate file for the investigation. After two years or at the end of the investigation, you must be notified about the investigation. After the investigation, if there is no discipline, all the information about the investigation must be destroyed. If you work for a criminal justice agency, after the investigation is finished and no disciplinary action is taken, the separate file about the investigation does not have to be destroyed, but must have a note about the outcome and information from the file cannot be used for in future promotions, transfers, additional compensation, or disciplinary actions.
  • In a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding, an employer may not be allowed to present information which should have been provided to you as part of your personnel record but was kept out.

NOTE: Your boss is not allowed to gather or keep information about anything you do when you are not at work including: who you associate with, political activities, publications or communications, unless you give written permission to collect the information. This does not apply to things you do at work or during work hours that interfere with work.

The law:

Bullard-Plawecki Employee Right to Know Act (Act 397 of 1978)

Public sector employees are also covered by the Freedom of Information Act (Act 442 of 1976)

How the law is enforced: Michigan does not have an agency which enforces this law. If your boss doesn’t let you review, copy, or put a rebuttal in your personnel file, you can take your employer to court. Receiving a letter from a lawyer will probably make most employers reconsider.

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