Archive for July, 2019

Personnel Files: What’s in Your File?

Every employer maintains a personnel file for each employee that includes pertinent and private information. A personnel file usually contains information about a staff member’s employment history with details about compensation, disciplinary actions, etc. Within each personnel file, there should be two sections – one being a general file and the other being a confidential file.

The Basics

The general personnel file should contain documents related to selection, hiring and employment (e.g., job descriptions, job advertisements, applications/resumes, references, disciplinary documents). The confidential personnel files contain all the documents that generally only the HR department would have access to, like medical documents, background check records, drug testing records and investigation documents. Just as the file’s name suggests, this file is confidential and should be privy to individuals with a professionally legitimate “need-to-know” basis.

There are times when a manager who is a subordinate to an HR Director or CEO may have access to some of the information in a confidential file. For an example, a hiring manager would be notified when an applicant passes/fails a drug test, but they would not be granted access to the document itself because of the confidential data it may contain (e.g., the drug test result document may contain the individual’s social security number and generally managers do not need, nor should they have access to social security numbers).

Additional Files

In some cases, managers may maintain a separate “working desk file” or supervisory file that usually includes employee performance and behavior. The sign of a good manager is one who (according to the University of Texas at Austin) does the following:

“…managers [should] adopt a process of documenting what is directly observed and notable about an employee’s performance as well as content of informal conversations with employees about their performance and/or conduct. These notes should be factual, objective, dated, written in a timely manner, and cover both positive and negative observations and discussions. Having these notes will improve the manager’s ability to write a thorough annual performance review including examples and dates.” (University of Texas at Austin, Human Resources)

Onboarding Documents

Outside of the file folders listed there are other documents like I-9’s and EE0-1 forms that should be maintained in a separate binder away from personnel files. Just like the general and confidential files, these documents should be kept under lock and key with limited access.

Employee Access to Files

Employees have the right to access their personnel files and it is good practice for them do so periodically. Some companies choose a formal request method with a trail of paperwork and others allow informal requests via email. Regardless of the method, each company should be sure to create a solid policy and procedure that is clearly communicated to employees and managers.
Another good practice is to maintain Personnel Files Access logs for each file. To ensure accountability and accurate record-keeping, individuals should be granted access through a Single Sign-On (SSO) process. Sometimes employees take documents or make changes to documents without fully understanding that those actions may jeopardize the company; since the HR department is responsible for maintaining compliance standards, a representative from the department should always chaperone these access visits.

As always, HRinMotion, LLC is here to assist you with your policy and procedural needs. Give us a call at 240-838-7142 or email us at to schedule your consultation.


Boomerang Employees: Should You Rehire a Former Employee?

You’ve thrown a fun and honorable “Going Away” party and have already started the hiring process for an employee who has decided to leave the company. Then you catch wind that this same employee would like to return to the company. How do you handle the decision to rehire a former employee?

While rehiring is very common with seasonal jobs or in niche industries where the amount of qualified candidates are scarce, rehiring was typically frowned upon years ago;however, times are changing as pools of talent are becoming smaller and smaller. In 2017, Jobvite reported that 65% of HR recruiters report that the biggest challenge in hiring is a shortage of talent. (EBI,Inc.) A 2015 survey by Workplace Trends also noted that 76% of HR professionals say they are more likely to hire these “boomerang employees” now than in the past. (Glassdoor)

That being said, there are pros and cons to rehiring employees and as a hiring manager or CEO, it is important to consider all angles before opening the door to the past.


  • A former employee is familiar with the company. Former employees have a leg up on the competition when it comes to understanding company culture, having experience with internal processes and familiarity with current staff. It isn’t the worst thing to have someone from the family return to familiar waters.

  • A rehire may return with improved skills and new knowledge. Boomerang employees may return with more than their favorite coffee mug. If you decide to let a former staff member return, they will be eager to share new skills or or any continued education they’ve acquired since leaving.

  • An employee returning may be a testament to a healthy and supportive work environment. If an employee returns, this can be seen as a good sign for the company. Although upon first glance it may seem like the employee is just desperate and is willing to go back to a job they dreaded in the past, it still shows that they would rather come back to their former workplace than to explore (too many) other options and companies.


  • A former employee may cost MORE money. In some cases, rehiring a former employee may save you money. You may spend less time (and money) onboarding and training or maybe the employee will keep their former salary;however, a former employee may come back with very high demands. In some cases companies may recruit former employees during a restructuring phase and if they are in management, they may be privy to the allocation of funds and require more for doing more. While this isn’t the most unfair stance, companies may save money by hiring a new employee with lower salary demands.

  • A rehire may bring down company morale. Some employees may not be so happy to see a former employee walk (back) through the door. If there was friction when they left, that friction may return with them. Other staff members who may have been vying for institutional change or even for that former employee’s position may feel threatened and unhappy. Check the pulse of your staff members and consult with your human resources department about complaints or internal issues that could arise.

  • An employee who returns may leave again. Employees leave companies for many different reasons. Sometimes those reasons are out of a company’s control and other times the reasons are a direct (and negative) result of their experience in the same work environment. An employee may want more money or an opportunity for upward mobility which is not always viewed negatively from either side if there’s just no room in the budget or company. On the other hand they may not like working conditions, hate the commute into the office or may not be in the field they actually plan to stay in long-term. Those variables are usually a sign that this boomerang-er may actually leave again. If you’re considering rehiring a former employee, be sure you’re clear on why they left the first time and while most employees won’t be completely honest, trust your gut if you feel this employee will exit stage left (again).