State law protects the confidentiality of employee personnel records. It also provides employees with the right to review their own personnel files. Specific rights for employees who believe that this file includes inaccurate or misleading records are discussed. Specific information about an employee must be supplied to any member of the public who requests it. Campus administrators who handle personnel files must follow statutory requirements for providing access to and for storing, transmitting, and destroying such files.
Policy Proper handling of employee personnel records by UNC Charlotte as a public institution requires harmonizing the interests of employees, UNC Charlotte as employer, and the general public. State law in North Carolina places certain requirements on handling state employee personnel records and establishes penalties for their violation. Beyond the mere legal requirements, certain additional standards concerning personnel records should be maintained. This policy incorporates both legal requirements and additional standards for two purposes: to provide guidance to employees about their privileges and obligations with respect to their own personnel records, and to guide UNC Charlotte personnel responsible for producing and maintaining personnel records in the appropriate handling of those records. No access to or disclosure from employee personnel records is permitted except in accordance with these requirements.
According to state law (NCGS §126-22), a "personnel file" consists of any employment-related or personal information, wherever located and in whatever form, which relates to an Individual's application, selection or non-selection, promotion, demotion, transfer, leave, salary, contract for employment, benefits, suspension, performance evaluation, disciplinary actions, or termination of employment if that information is gathered by UNC Charlotte, the Retirement Systems Division of the Department of State Treasurer, or by the Office of State Personnel. Personal information in a personnel file includes an individual's home address, social security number, medical history, personal financial data, marital status, dependents, and beneficiaries. "Individuals" having UNC Charlotte personnel files include present UNC Charlotte employees, former employees, and applicants for employment. An "applicant for employment" is an individual who takes those steps necessary to be considered an applicant for purposes of the UNC Charlotte Affirmative Action plan.
Not every record that mentions an employee constitutes a personnel record. When there is doubt, refer inquiries to the Office of Legal Affairs.
II. Information Required to Be Disclosed to Any Member of the Public
The law (NCGS §126-23) requires the University to permit the public access to the following information from an individual’s personnel file:
- Date of original State employment or appointment to State service;
- The terms of any contract by which the employee is employed whether written or oral, past and current, to the extent that the agency has the written contract or a record of the oral contract in its possession;
- Current position;
- Current salary;
- Date and amount of each increase or decrease in salary with that department, agency, institution, commission, or bureau;
- Date and type of each promotion, demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, or other change in position classification within that department, agency, institution, commission, or bureau;
- Date and general description of the reasons for each promotion with that department, agency, institution, commission, or bureau;
- Date and type of each dismissal, suspension, or demotion for disciplinary reasons taken by the department, agency, institution, commission, or bureau. If the disciplinary action was a dismissal, a copy of the written notice of the final decision of the head of the department setting forth the specific acts or omissions that are the basis of the dismissal; and
- The office or department to which the employee is currently assigned.
Salary information includes pay, benefits, incentives, bonuses, and deferred and all other forms of compensation paid by the employing entity. In addition, the UNC Board of Governors has enacted a policy in which provisions specific to the contracts of head coaches and athletic directors in the UNC system can be found (see UNC Board of Governors Policy 1100.3.A.6).
As a general rule, all requests for access to personnel information from any person or agency except the subject employee or the employee's supervisors (see VI below), should be referred to the Department of Human Resources (SHRA) or the Office of Academic Affairs (EHRA) or the Graduate School (Graduate Assistants, Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants).
III. Location of Personnel Records
Current employees: Personnel records on current employees are maintained in a variety of campus offices, depending on the nature of the record.
Former employees: Personnel records on all former SHRA employees are retained only in the Department of Human Resources. When employment terminates, all personnel records for SHRA positions shall be forwarded to the Department of Human Resources. Personnel records on former EHRA employees are retained in the Office of Academic Affairs and in their respective departments/units for up to three years before being sent to the University Archives, where the files are merged.
Unsuccessful applicants for employment: Personnel records on all unsuccessful applicants for SHRA employment are retained only in the Department of Human Resources. Personnel records on all unsuccessful applicants for EHRA employment are retained in the unit or department conducting the search for three years, and then the files are destroyed.
IV. Retention Schedule
Current employees: Personnel records for current employees are maintained in the appropriate offices throughout the period of employment, subject to the "relevancy" requirement of Section VII below. For SHRA employees who transfer to another department within the University, the former department shall send the personnel records of the transferred SHRA employee to the Department of Human Resources.
Former employees: After receiving the personnel records for SHRA positions consistent with Section III.B above, the Department of Human Resources shall retain such records for five years; such records shall then be forwarded to the State Archives for permanent storage. When employment terminates for EHRA positions, all files are maintained in the Office of Academic Affairs and in their respective departments/units for up to three years and then sent to University Archives for permanent storage. The University Archivist merges all files and maintains a directory of files.
Unsuccessful applicants for employment: Personnel records of all unsuccessful applicants for SHRA positions shall be retained in the Department of Human Resources for three years, then destroyed. Personnel records of all unsuccessful applicants for EHRA positions shall be retained in the recruiting department/unit for three years and then destroyed.
V. Employee Inspection of Their Personnel File
A current employee who wishes to inspect their personnel file in a particular campus office should contact the administrator in charge of that office. An employee, former employee, or applicant who wishes to make a more general inspection should make a written request directed to:
- SHRA employees: Director of Personnel
- EHRA employees: Associate Provost for Academic Budget and Personnel
- Graduate assistants: Dean of the Graduate School
Those offices will accumulate all records and schedule a time and place for the employee to inspect the personnel file.
Employees responsible for maintaining personnel records and files of current UNC Charlotte employees should permit access to those records only in accord with the requirements in this section unless they receive special instructions from their supervisor.
A. Access should be permitted to:
All supervisors who are above the employee who is the subject of the records in the supervisory chain, or persons authorized by those supervisors to carry out personnel administration functions, but only for purposes of official University business.
The employee, applicant for employment, or former employee who is the subject of a personnel record, who may have access to the personnel record in its entirety, except for confidential letters of recommendation solicited prior to employment, and certain medical records.
"Confidential letters of recommendation" include notes from telephone reference checks and statements from UNC Charlotte and other individuals solicited prior to the initial date of employment. Once a new employee begins at UNC Charlotte, all copies of such confidential letters of recommendation should be forwarded to the Department of Human Resources (SHRA employees), to the office of Academic Affairs (EHRA employees), or to the Graduate School (Graduate Assistants, Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants).
"Medical records" require special consideration. Records relating to employee medical or counseling services provided by the University Health Service and University Counseling Center are not part of the personnel file. An employee is not entitled to review medical records that are part of their personnel file if those records include "information concerning a medical disability, mental or physical, that a prudent physician would not reveal to a patient." That information may be released to a licensed physician designated in writing by the employee.
Because "medical records" present special confidentiality requirements, all copies of such documents should be forwarded to the Benefits Office in the Department of Human Resources.
Employees responsible for maintaining personnel files are expected to review the personnel file for the presence of confidential recommendations and medical records before permitting any employee access to their personnel file.
If any case of doubt about whether to disclose information from personnel records, contact the Department of Human Resources or the Office of Academic Affairs.
Information and documents not relevant to personnel administration should not be retained in the personnel file.
VIII. Employee Objections to Material in the Personnel File
Any individual, as defined above, is legally entitled to take either or both of the following actions if they consider material in the personnel file to be inaccurate or misleading:
- Place in the file a statement relating to the material considered inaccurate or misleading.
- Seek removal of material in the file in accordance with grievance procedure applicable to the employee's category of employment.
IX. Notice to Employee of Disclosure of Confidential Information to Outside Agencies
The University will notify the employee as promptly as possible when it makes a disclosure of confidential information required or permitted by law, as in response to a subpoena, court order, or to a properly authorized government official. The University official making such disclosure is responsible for notifying the employee in writing, with a copy of the notice to the personnel file. No such notice will be given where the only information requested is information available to the general public.
X. Use of Information from Credit Reporting Services in Personnel Decisions
Because of federal law requirements governing requests for or use of information obtained by or through any consumer credit reporting agency, no UNC Charlotte representative is authorized to request or make use of such information for any University-related purpose without the written approval of the Chancellor. The UNC Charlotte Office of Police and Public Safety is exempt from this requirement with respect to employment of campus security officers, consistent with the federal requirements.
Revised October 21, 1985
Revised March 26, 2001
Revised February 13, 2009
Revised February 13, 2009
Revised October 1, 2010