Personnel Files

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[The following was approved on August 2, 1995, in accordance with provisions set forth in SIU Board of Trustees 2 Policies C.]


Southern Illinois University Carbondale recognizes the right of individual faculty and staff members to review the information included in their own personnel files. The university also recognizes that reasonable restrictions upon the disclosure of information included in individual employee personnel files is necessary to prevent the unwarranted invasion of the individual employee's personal privacy. It is the purpose of this policy to provide guidelines for the review or release of information contained in personnel files which will protect these rights and assure compliance with applicable laws.


  1. "Employee," when used in this policy, includes any individual currently holding a faculty, administrative/professional staff, civil service, graduate assistant, or student work appointment at SIUC. It also includes an individual subject to recall after layoff or leave of absence with a right to return to a position with the university or a former employee who has terminated service within the preceding year.
  2. "Personnel File" refers to a collection of employment-related information maintained by the university pertaining to an individual employee, and which consists of the types of information referred to in the section on "Content of Files" below.
  3. "File Custodian," when used in this policy, refers to those persons set forth in the section on "Location of Personnel Files" below, together with those persons who are authorized by the administrative head as part of their daily duties to place information into and retrieve information from the file.

Location of Personnel Files

Personnel files of record are maintained at Employee Records (Carbondale campus) and the office of the Dean and Provost (Springfield campus). Personnel files may also be maintained by the administrative office of the department or unit where the employee is currently assigned, and by deans, directors, and vice chancellors for all employees under their supervision. Records pertaining to student employment and graduate assistant appointment are maintained by Financial Aid, the Graduate School, and the School of Medicine. No other personnel files shall be kept except as permitted by this paragraph.

Contents of Files

Information that may be placed in a personnel file includes but is not limited to the following:

  1. Employment application and status documents and related correspondence;
  2. Documents and correspondence which relate to the employee's training and development, professional activities, etc.;
  3. Documents and correspondence which relate to the employee's university benefits;
  4. Evaluations: Written evaluations of an employee made by an administrator or supervisor will be included in that employee's personnel file at the level the evaluation is made. The employee has the right to challenge or respond to a written evaluation, and a copy of the response will also be included in the employee's personnel file. If a copy of an evaluation is forwarded for inclusion in other personnel files, the employee's response, if given, must also be included.
  5. Any other personnel documents which are, have been, or are intended to be used in determining the employee's qualifications for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation, discharge, or other disciplinary action will be included in that employee's personnel file at the appropriate level. Except as otherwise provided in this policy, documents excluded from the right of review by law need not be included in the file. [See appendix for a copy of the statute in question.]
  6. Confidential Folder: If an employee desires that certain confidential recommendations or evaluations be provided on the employee's behalf with the understanding that the contents will not be disclosed to the employee but that they will be included in his or her personnel file, a signed statement to that effect must be provided by the employee. Any material so specified by the employee is to be placed in an envelope marked confidential with the employee's statement of permission attached. The envelope and its contents will be removed from the file by the appropriate administrative officer upon receipt of a written request by the employee.

Review of Employee's Own Personnel Files

  1. An employee may review any document included in his or her personnel file with the exception of confidential recommendations or evaluations for that employee as provided in the preceding paragraph, or as otherwise excepted by law.
  2. An employee desiring to review his or her file must visit Employee Records (Carbondale campus); or the office of Dean and Provost (Springfield campus); or other department or unit where a personnel file of the employee is maintained and present proper identification. The file shall be made available for review by the employee during regular office hours as soon as possible, but in no event later than 7 working days after the employee makes the request. A file may not be removed from the office where it is maintained and may be reviewed by the employee only in the presence of the custodian of the file or his or her designee. An employee may not remove documents from the file or add documents to the file, except as permitted by this policy. However, a copy of all or part of the file will be provided to the employee upon reimbursing the university for costs of reproducing the copies requested.
  3. Except for materials described under "Contents of Files," subsection f, a copy of all or a part of a personnel file will be mailed to an employee who demonstrates that he or she is unable to review the file at the university, when such a request is made in writing by the employee. The employee must reimburse the university for the costs of reproducing the copies requested.
  4. An employee involved in a grievance against the university may designate in writing a representative to review his or her personnel file.
  5. The file custodian may limit file review to not more than 2 per calendar year and require that they be made at reasonable intervals.
  6. If the file contains a document which the employee believes should not be contained within the file or contains inaccurate information, the employee may challenge the inclusion or seek correction of such document in accordance with the following procedure:
    1. The employee must inform the custodian of the file in writing of the exact documents about which objection is being made and the nature of the objection.
    2. The custodian will relate in writing the objection to the author of the documents, if feasible, or otherwise to the appropriate university officer having responsibility for such documents.
    3. If the author or other appropriate university officer agrees with the objection, the custodian will either cause the necessary correction to be made or remove the document from the file, return the document to the author or other university officer, and notify the employee of the action taken.
    4. If the author or other office believes the document is accurate and should remain within the file, and is employment-related, the employee may submit a concise letter of explanation and/or objection which will be attached to the document in question.

Release Of Information Included in Personnel Files

  1. The following university departments and representatives are authorized to review personnel files as necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their responsibilities:
    1. Human Resources;
    2. The chancellor's office and the administrative office of each person directly responsible to the chancellor;
    3. The fiscal officer of the account from which the particular employee is paid, the department head, and the college or school dean or a delegated representative;
    4. Auditors of the Executive Director of Audits office, when necessary and to the extent required for the performance of an authorized audit;
    5. Other university departments or representatives to the extent required for the performance of their responsibilities. (The file custodian may require submission of a written explanation justifying any request for access to personnel files pursuant to this provision.)
  2. Information concerning an employee that may be confirmed to external agencies or individuals in the absence of a written release from the employee is generally limited to information otherwise available to the public, e.g., verification that the employee works at the university, duration of employment, the employing department or unit, the employee's job description, classification, and salary. Further information concerning an employee may be disclosed to external agencies or individuals only when the agency or individual requesting the information can show legal authorization to obtain the information requested. Such requests should be referred to Employee Records, Carbondale campus, or office of the Dean and Provost, Springfield campus, which office, in consultation with the office of General Counsel as required, will determine the validity of the request.
  3. The employee may authorize the release or disclosure of information included in his or her personnel file by written release which describes the information that may be disclosed and the agency or individual that may obtain the information.

Notice to Employee when Disciplinary Action is Disclosed

In the event an external agency or individual is authorized by law to obtain information pursuant to a court order subpoena, compliance with a relevant discovery request in a case to which the university is a party, or legislative inquiry concerning an employee that includes any disciplinary report, letter of reprimand, or other disciplinary action, written notice will be mailed to the employee on or before the day such disciplinary information is disclosed. However, written notice of disclosure of disciplinary information need not be provided the employee when

  1. the employee has specifically waived written notice as a part of a written, signed employment application with another employer;
  2. the disclosure is ordered to a party in a legal action or arbitration; or
  3. the information is requested by a government agency as a result of a claim or complaint by an employee, or as a result of a criminal investigation by such agency. Before such information is disclosed to a third party, except when the personnel file is ordered to a party in a legal action or arbitration, the personnel file shall be reviewed by the custodian who shall delete disciplinary reports, letters of reprimand, or other records of disciplinary action which are more than 4 years old.


Illinois Compiled Statutes (820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 40/10) provides that the right of the employee to inspect his or her personnel records does not apply to "

  1. letters of reference for that employee or external peer review documents for academic employees of institutions of higher education;
  2. any portion of a test document, except that the employee may see a cumulative total test score for either a section of or the entire test document;
  3. materials relating to the employer's staff planning, such as matters relating to the business' development, expansion, closing or operational goals, where the materials relate to or affect more than one employee provided, however, that this exception does not apply if such materials are, have been, or are intended to be used by the employer in determining an individual employee's qualifications for employment, promotion, transfer, or additional compensation, or in determining an individual employee's discharge or discipline;
  4. information of a personal nature about a person other than the employee if disclosure of the information would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of the other person's privacy;
  5. an employer who does not maintain any personnel records;
  6. records relevant to any other pending claim between the employer and employee which may be discovered in a judicial proceeding;
  7. investigatory or security records maintained by an employer to investigate criminal conduct by an employee or other activity by the employee which could reasonably be expected to harm the employer's property, operations, or business or could by the employee's activity cause the employer financial liability, unless and until the employer takes adverse personnel action based on information in such records.