Personnel Records

Applicable laws in Massachusetts may require that employers maintain certain documents and information for each employee in separate personnel records. These records must be retained for the term of the employment and at least three (3) years after termination. The definition of “personnel records” under the Massachusetts law is broad, encompassing all information that has been used or could be used to determine the employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation, and disciplinary action. Records that may generally be required to be retained in each employee’s separate personnel records include:

  • General information: name, address, date of birth;
  • Job title and description;
  • Rate and basis of pay, time when workweek begins and hours worked each day;
  • Starting date of employment;
  • Employment application, inquiry and/or resume, if provided;
  • Performance evaluations, if any;
  • Disciplinary warnings, or other disciplinary documents, and warnings of substandard performance, if any;
  • List of probationary periods, if any;
  • Waivers, acknowledgements (i.e., acknowledging receipt of personnel handbook, sexual harassment policy, etc.) signed by the employee, if any;
  • Copies of dated termination notices, if any.

Under the Massachusetts personnel records law, employers are required to give notice to an employee within 10 days of placing certain negative information into the employee’s personnel record. Specifically, notice to the employee is required “within 10 days of the employer placing in the employee’s personnel record any information to the extent that the information is, has been used or may be used, to negatively affect the employee’s qualification for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation or the possibility that the employee will be subject to disciplinary action.”

Further, employers must provide employees with access to their personnel records, including making a copy available to an employee within five (5) business days from an employee’s written request.

For additional information please do not hesitate to contact Finneran & Nicholson, P.C. at (978) 462-1514 or via email at

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