Chapter 7 – Access to Personnel Files

(10/95; amended 3/02; 9/02; 12/05; 10/14; 9/15; 7/1/17)

Effective July 1, 2017, this policy has been revised. For individual changes, see the redlined version of III-7.2.

7.1 Faculty — General

The University recognizes the right of access by a faculty member to his or her own personnel files whether in departmental, collegiate, central administrative, or any other University offices. A faculty member may have access to letters and other materials written in an expectation of confidence after the means of identification have been removed.

  1. The following materials will be presumed to have been written in an expectation of confidence, unless the author indicates otherwise:
    1. materials from students;
    2. materials from outside evaluators.
  2. Materials from administrators, including deans, directors, and department heads, will be treated as not having been written in an expectation of confidence.
  3. Materials from peers within the University will be treated as having been written in an expectation of confidence.
  4. The above statements comprise the basic policy on faculty access which is to be observed in all colleges and departments. In addition, by vote of the appropriate faculty group, a department or college may elect to adopt a general policy providing access to materials written by peers within the University without removing the means of identification. The Executive Vice President and Provost should be notified by any department or college electing to provide access to such materials.
  5. A faculty member wishing to have access to his or her personnel files should inform the administrator responsible for maintaining the files sought for inspection. Nothing in this statement limits a faculty member's right of access to his or her own personnel files in connection with a proceeding brought under III-29. Questions relating to the application of this policy should be directed to the Executive Vice President and Provost.

7.2 Professional and Scientific Staff, Faculty, and Merit System Staff

(10/95; amended 3/02; 9/02; 12/05; 10/14; 9/15; 7/1/17)

Effective July 1, 2017, this policy has been revised. For individual changes, see the redlined version.

  1. General. Employing departments shall maintain a personnel file, and, when applicable, a separate medical file for each employee. Files are the property of the University, and information contained within shall be consistent with state and federal laws and regulations and University policies.
  2. File Content.
    1. Personnel File. Personnel files shall contain documents related to the employee's employment, e.g., resumes and/or application materials, appointment and employment offer documents, change of status and termination forms, performance appraisals, letters of recognition and/or commendation, and any disciplinary records.
    2. Medical File. Medical file contents are limited to documents related to the health conditions of the employee and/or employee's family member that have related or will relate to the employee's ability to work. Documents may include but are not limited to health concerns involving: Workers' Compensation; Family and Medical Leave Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act; employment accommodations; absence due to health, release to return to work; employee medical limitations; employment immunizations; and drug screen information when applicable under the commercial driver's license (CDL) drug-testing program.
  3. File Storage and Access. Personnel and medical file information is presumed confidential to anyone but the employee except when information is needed for official University purposes, when the employee gives written authorization, or when the information is general directory information such as name, address, phone number, and position. An employee may request to review personnel and medical files, and copies will be made or access given at an agreeable time and place.
    1. Personnel Files. Files are to be stored and maintained confidentially, whether in hard copy or electronic format. Access is limited to appropriate supervisory and support personnel as required to perform work responsibilities. An employee may provide written authorization to release all or portions of the files.
    2. Medical Files. Files are to be stored and maintained confidentially, whether in hard copy or electronic format. Information shall be kept in a separate location, apart from other employment-related information. Access is limited to appropriate supervisory, support, and safety personnel as required to perform work responsibilities. An employee may provide written authorization to release all or portions of the files.
  4. Storage Following Employment Separation.
    1. Personnel Files. Files shall transfer with the employee when the employee assumes a position in another University department. When employment terminates, the employing department shall maintain these files for five years from the date of termination.
    2. Medical Files. Files, except for ADA accommodation–related documents, shall transfer with the employee when the employee assumes a position in another University department. The current department shall send ADA accommodation–related documents to University Faculty and Staff Disability Services at the time of the employee's transfer within the University and/or upon final employment termination. Medical files except for ADA accommodation–related documents shall be maintained for five years from the date of termination in the last employing department.

      Documents related to positive test results, refusals to take a required alcohol and/or controlled substances test, and employee exposure to toxic substances may transfer with the employee, depending on the circumstances. Departments in possession of such documents are to contact University Employee and Labor Relations for instructions. Upon termination, documents are to be retained in the last employing department.

(See also https://hr.uiowa.edu/epersonnel-file.)