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New Massachusetts Law Changes Personnel Records Act, More Requirements on Employers

Imbedded among the provisions of  what the Legislature declared an “emergency law” entitled “An Act Relative To Economic Development Reorganization” are major changes to the requirements of the Massachusetts Personnel Records Act, Mass. Gen. L. Ch 149, Sec 148, subsection 52C.

Under this new law, which became effective August 5, 2010, an employer must now:

1) Notify an employee within 10 days, if the employer places any information in the employee’s personnel file which either has been or will be used to negatively impact the employee’s employment with that employer.  Specifically, if any of this information could be used to evaluate an employee’s performance and subject that employee to disciplinary action, adversely impact that employee’s opportunity for promotion, transfer, or additional compensation, the employer must now comply with this new law and give notice of the filing of this information into the employee’s personnel file.

2) If an employee requests, in writing, the opportunity to review his or her personnel record, the employer must provide that employee with an opportunity to review that record within 5 days of receipt of the written request.  NOTE: The new law also provides that the review of the record shall take place at the employer’s place of business, during normal business hours.

3) If an employee provides a written request for a copy of his or her file, that request, as well, must be honored within 5 days of the written request for a copy of that record.

An employee may only request a review of his or her personnel file on 2 occasions within a calendar year, unless that employee has received a notification of the placement of negative information in that employee’s personnel file.  This notice and the opportunity to review the file are not considered part of the 2 maximum reviews per calendar year.

These changes are significant and will tremendously impact the work of human resources professionals and management, and how they approach employee relations and personnel records.

If you have any questions about this new law, please contact me directly at or (617) 330-7123.

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