Personnel Record Review Act

Describes the conditions under which employees may review and/or append their personnel records.

On January 15, 1984, the Illinois Personnel Record Review Act (820 ILCS et seq.) took effect. It grants employees the right to review and, when appropriate, to append their personnel records. The Act applies to personnel records in the Staff Human Resources Office and in the Office of Academic Human Resources and also to personnel materials maintained by employing units.

The following are pertinent provisions of the Act:

  1. Who May Inspect

    Right of access is granted to current employees, those on leave or layoff subject to recall, and those who have terminated service within the preceding year.

  2. What May Be Inspected

    Personnel documents may be inspected if they are, have been, or are intended to be used in determining an employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation, discharge, or other disciplinary action, except as noted below.  An employee is entitled to make at least two inspection requests in a calendar year.

    1. How:  Opportunity to inspect the records must be given within seven (7) working days after a request is made.  If it can be shown that it is not possible to meet the deadline, the employing unit has an additional seven (7) days to comply.  Employing units may require that the request be in writing.  The inspection should be monitored.
    2. Where:  Location of the personnel documents is not germane to employee’s right of access; however, as noted below, the nature of the information sought is.  Records will be reviewed at a place designated by the employing unit or the respective human resources office and reasonably near the employee’s place of employment within working hours.
    3. Copies:  An employee is entitled to a copy of any personnel materials inspected.  A copying fee may be charged, but it cannot exceed the actual cost of duplicating the information.
  3. Disallowed Material

    Employees do not have a right to inspect the following documents:

    • letters of reference, both internal and external, for the employee;
    • external peer review documents; test documents (the employee, however, may see test scores);
    • information in their files constituting an invasion of other persons’ privacy;
    • records pertaining to a criminal investigation of an employee or employees (unless and until adverse personnel action is taken based on those records);
    • records related to a pending claim between the employer and employee that may be obtained through that judicial proceeding; and
    • materials used for management planning. “Management planning” materials include those used in matters relating to the comments or ratings necessary for University, campus, or department planning, where the materials relate to or affect more than one employee. Of course, this exception does not apply if such materials are, have been, or are intended to be used in determining an individual employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation, or in determining an individual employee’s discharge or discipline, as provided above.

    As a result of the September 2, 1988, amendment to this Act, internal review documents must now be disclosed if the employee who is the subject of the evaluation submits a request to inspect his or her personnel file, except for external and internal documents that are letters of reference.  In order to protect the privacy rights of University employees who wrote documents pertaining to an employee’s compensation, promotion, or job assignment, which were placed in a personnel file prior to the statutory change (September 2, 1988), it will be the campus policy not to disclose such materials without the permission of the author(s).

  4. Who Else May Inspect

    An employee involved in a grievance may designate, in writing, a representative to inspect his or her personnel records as they pertain to the grievance.

  5. Disputes

    An employee who disagrees with any information in the personnel record may negotiate to have that information removed or corrected.  If agreement is not reached, the employee may submit a written statement explaining why he or she believes the record is wrong.  This statement must be appended to the disputed material in the personnel record and circulated with that material whenever it is released to a third party.  Falsification of information in a personnel file by the University or by the employee may result in litigation to correct the file by the University or by the employee.

  6. Release of Information

    Information regarding disciplinary action, including letters of warning, may not be divulged to a third party, other than to a labor organization representing the employee, without written notice to the employee concerned.  Written notice must be sent by first-class mail to the employee on or before the date the information is divulged.  No notice is required if

    1. the employee has specifically waived notice as part of a signed employment application with another employer;
    2. the disclosure is ordered to a party in a legal action; or
    3. the information is requested by a government agency as a result of a claim or complaint by an employee or as a result of a criminal investigation by such agency.

    Disciplinary records more that four (4) years old will not be released unless it is so ordered in a legal action or arbitration.

For guidance on application of this policy to promotion and tenure dossiers, see Provost’s Communication 9. Questions about the Personnel Record Review Act, or about personnel records policy in general, should be directed to the Academic Human Resources Office, (217) 333-6747, for academic employees, or to the Staff Human Resources Office, (217) 333-2143, for Civil Service employees.