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Policies and Procedures Governing Official Personnel Files

Responsible Office: Human Resources

Policy Type: Personnel and Payroll

Policy Number: 628

Last Date Revised: 9/19/18

It is the policy of Binghamton University to protect the confidentiality of the official personnel files of all current and former employees to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law. By doing so we will permit access to official personnel files only to those individuals and offices legally and operationally entitled to such access. This is in accordance with the NYS Personal Privacy Protection Law, the Freedom of Information Law, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), and the collective bargaining Agreements with CSEA, UUP, C82, NYSCOPBA, GSEU, and PEF. “Official personnel files” are defined as the paper and electronic files maintained by the Human Resources Office, which contain information on employees related to their employment experience at Binghamton University.

OFFICIAL PERSONNEL FILES (PAPER)

Employees

1. An employee wishing to review his/her personnel file, or who wishes to designate a union representative to review the personnel file, should call the Human Resources Office at extension 7-2187. An appointment will be scheduled within three working days to review the file.

2. A union representative may accompany the employee at the review, or the employee may designate a union representative to review the file. In the case of a designee, the designee must present a signed and dated release from the employee before the file is released.

3. Upon review of the file, an employee or designated union representative may request copies of documents found in the file. The Human Resources Office shall make such copies for $.25 per copy.

4. An employee may make written response of a reasonable length to any material found in the file by submitting a signed and dated response to Human Resources.

5. A former employee has access to his/her inactive personnel file under the Freedom of Information Law, and may make a request to amend or correct his/her file. Such a request must be made through the University Attorney, by calling 777-4438.

Supervisors

1. Upon the request of a department head to the Associate Vice President for Human Resources, the department head, or his/her authorized and approved designee, will be able to review an employee's file provided that such request specifically describes the information requested and how such information will be used and:

a.  the employee reports to the department from which the request emanates, or

b. the employee has made a written application to transfer or move to the department from which the request emanates, or

c.  the employee formerly worked for Binghamton University and is reapplying for employment with the requesting department.

2. If approved, the department head, or designee, will schedule an appointment with the Human Resources Office, at which time the file will be available for review.

3. No information or materials shall be removed from the personnel file by the reviewing department, and copies will be provided per normal operating procedures. Information received during this review is confidential and shall be used for legitimate work-related reasons only.


Senior Management

Members of senior management may access an employee's personnel file, upon request to the Associate Vice President for Human Resources, if such access and review of records is necessary in the performance of their official duties. Information received during this review is confidential and shall be used for legitimate work-related reasons only.

Outside Inquiries

1.      Faxed and or written requests for employee information i.e. mortgage applications, inquiries from prospective employers not directed to a specific reference, background checks on employees applying for grants, applications for low-income housing, etc. must be directed to the Human Resources Office. Information will be released only if the employee has signed and dated a release of information to the requesting party.

2.      A few written requests do not require a signed and dated release from the employee in order for us to provide information to the requesting party. Some examples include: Request for Employment and Wage Data from the Department of Labor regarding unemployment insurance, or the Confidential Wage Report from a county income execution unit usually in relation to child support.

3.      Subpoenas of employee records must be directed to and received by the Associate Vice President for Human Resources or his/her designee. If the subpoena is served on an office other than the Human Resources Office, the employee accepting it should note where, when, how and from whom the subpoena was received. The employee should then deliver the subpoena and all materials received with it to the unit supervisor who, in turn, will direct it to the Human Resources Office. The subpoena will be routed to our University Attorney who deals with subpoenas locally. Upon receipt, it will be reviewed and recommendations made regarding whether we need to comply with the subpoena and what, if any, information must be released. In the University Attorney’s absence, the subpoena will be faxed to an attorney in the Office of the University Counsel and Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs in Albany. An accounting of any disclosure of employee records as a result of a subpoena will be made a part of the employee’s file.

4.      Telephone requests regarding employment of individuals and official personnel files must be directed to the Human Resources Office.

5.      Unless prohibited by law, an employee represented by UUP shall be notified of any request for access to the employee’s file, other than access for official University business (Article 31-UUP Agreement).

OFFICIAL PERSONNEL FILES (ELECTRONIC)

SUNY HR is the campus system of record for personnel information. SUNY is a decentralized system. As such, access to the data may be granted to a very limited number of University managers. These people are entrusted to view and use relevant Human Resource data only as is appropriate to their work-related responsibilities.

Binghamton University HR Coordinators and HR Masters may request HR data for their department(s) only using the HR Report Request Form found on the Human Resources website.

All requests for HR data will be verified that the requester has received the appropriate training and been provided with either HR Coordinator or HR Master level access to this data. In addition, a signed confidentiality form must be on file for anyone who submits a request for HR report.

Information from the SUNY HR system or HR provided reports should never be shared with any person, company, or organization external to the University without the review and approval of the Associate Vice President for Human Resources and the University attorney.

Under no circumstances should inappropriate sharing of confidential personnel data occur within the University community. Data considered confidential in all situations includes but is not limited to:

·         Disabilities/accommodations

·         Benefit data-insurances, dependants, partners, etc.

·         Unlisted telephone numbers

Should there be a need for an interpretation of what is deemed confidential data or an appropriate business reason to use the data, the Associate Vice President for Human Resources should be the contact person. He or she will consult as necessary to provide direction and guidance.

MAILING LABELS

Mailing labels, which include employee name and address, are provided to departments having a legitimate business reason for making the request, and an account against which the cost can be charged. Only persons authorized to make charges against an account can make such requests. Routine requests should be directed to Kathy Gallegher in Human Resources at extension 7-4885. The Associate Vice President for Human Resources must approve non-routine requests for labels. The appropriate Vice President may be consulted in such instances.

Campus mailing labels are requested through HR Data Report Request Form. These requests will be fulfilled for campus personnel with legitimate work-related reasons only. All HR provided reports are confidential documents. Personnel data has been entrusted to the University for safekeeping and needs to be dealt with respectfully. Any questions about the appropriate or inappropriate use of personnel information contained in HR reports should be referred to the Associate Vice President for Human Resources.
Please note: You will be required to log-in to your campus Bmail account to submit a label request.

All other requests for access to employee records must be made under the Freedom of Information Law through the University attorney.

The policies and procedures detailed above shall be reviewed from time to time to ensure compliance with applicable federal and state laws as well as the applicable contractual provisions of the various labor Agreements shall take precedence.

Student employee records such as those related to the College Work Study payroll or the student temporary service payroll are considered educational records and are governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Policies Governing Student Records. As such, this employment information including verification of employment is not releasable to anyone without a signed waiver by the student employee.

Contacts:
Associate Vice President for Human Resources, 7-2187
Senior Associate Director of Human Resources, 7-4939,

Assistant Director of Human Resources 7-6613

Last Updated: 9/19/18