Access to Personnel Files Handbook Statement: Rhode Island

Author: Amy E. Mendenhall, Marissa L. Dragoo, Corinn Jackson, and Judith A. Paulson, Littler

When to Include This Statement

Rhode Island employers should consider including this statement in their handbook to inform employees about the conditions under which they are entitled to access their personnel files and to demonstrate compliance with Rhode Island law.

Customizable Handbook Statement

Access to Personnel Files

Employees may review or obtain a copy of their personnel file, generally not more than three times per calendar year, by submitting a written request to Human Resources [or insert name of appropriate company representative or department]. The review will take place in the presence of a company representative and at a reasonable time outside of the employee's work hours. Employees are not permitted to remove information from their files. Employees who request a copy of their file may be charged a reasonable fee related to the cost of copying the requested documents.

Certain information is not available for inspection, including: records relating to the investigation of possible criminal offenses and records prepared for use in any civil, criminal or grievance proceedings; letters of reference or recommendation; managerial records kept or used only by the Company; confidential reports from previous employers; and managerial planning records.

Guidance for Employers

  • Employers are not required to provide employees access to personnel records more than three times per year.
  • Inspections should be made in the presence of the employer or its designee.
  • "Personnel file" means records used to determine an employee's qualifications for:
    • Employment;
    • Promotion;
    • Additional compensation;
    • Termination; and
    • Other disciplinary action.
  • Employers are not required to provide access to:
    • Records relating to the investigation of a possible criminal offense or records prepared for use in any civil, criminal or grievance proceedings;
    • Letters of reference or recommendation;
    • Managerial records kept or used only by the employer;
    • Confidential reports from previous employers; and
    • Managerial planning records.
  • Employers have seven working days to respond to an employee's written request to view his or her personnel file.
  • Inspection of personnel files must take place at a reasonable time other than during an employee's work hours.
  • Employees are not permitted to make copies; however, they may request copies from the employer. The employer may charge a fee reasonably related to the cost of supplying the requested copies.

Additional Resources

Access to Personnel Files Handbook Statement

Employee Rights to Access Personnel Records by State