Definition of a “Personnel File”
The North Carolina Human Resources Act defines a “personnel file” as “any employment related or personal information gathered by” the University as an employer. The Human Resources Act further states that “employment‑related information contained in a personnel file includes information related to an individual’s application, selection, promotion, demotion, transfer, leave, salary, contract for employment, benefits, suspension, performance evaluation, disciplinary actions, and termination. Personal information contained in a personnel file includes an individual’s home address, social security number, medical history, personal financial data, marital status, dependents, and beneficiaries.”
HR Records & Information in the Office of Human Resources and the Office of University Counsel review requests for access to, or disclosure of, any University-related personnel record(s) and release this information consistent with federal and State laws.
Public and Confidential Personnel Information
The following items regarding each individual’s University employment are considered public information and will be released upon request:
- age (not date of birth)
- date of original employment or appointment
- 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 at the University
- date and type of each promotion, demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, or other change in position classification at the University
- general description of the reasons for each promotion at the University
- date and type of each dismissal, suspension, or demotion for disciplinary reasons. 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
- office or station to which the employee is currently assigned (this includes work-related contact information, such as department address, department telephone and facsimile numbers, and e-mail address)
Any additional information regarding employees not specifically identified above is considered confidential under State law unless otherwise explicitly authorized by the Human Resources Act. The Human Resources Act requires that University employees who are in or come into possession of such confidential personnel information maintain its confidentiality.
Note: Any employment records relating to an individual who is employed as a result of his/her status as a student are education records. In such a case, the items above would not be public personnel information.
Safeguarding Personnel Files
Within the University, records in a personnel file outside of the items mentioned above are confidential to all except those who have a need to know certain information in order to carry out the functions of their University position. Only authorized people shall have access. Each University office that maintains personnel files must establish controls to protect the records from unauthorized disclosure. For example, personnel files should be stored in a locked cabinet or drawer with access appropriately limited. To allow unauthorized access to confidential information in a personnel file, or to disclose confidential information to a person without authorization is a violation of the Human Resources Act.
The Office of Human Resources reviews requests for SPA personnel files, and the Office of University Counsel reviews requests for all EPA (faculty and non-faculty) personnel files. Upon receiving a request from a faculty member, the Office of University Counsel will gather files from the department and central University offices and arrange a meeting time to permit the faculty member to review his/her file.
An employee may examine his/her entire personnel file with the exception of letters of reference solicited prior to initial University employment or information concerning medical disabilities (mental or physical) that a physician might not have disclosed to the employee. Such medical information may be disclosed to a licensed physician designated in writing by the employee. An employee may receive a copy of the records in his/her personnel file that are open to examination upon request; however, original documents may not be borrowed and must be maintained in the file.
The University releases or permits examination of confidential personnel records only as provided by federal and State laws, including as provided in the Human Resources Act.