Concise Guide to Maintaining an Employee’s Personnel Record

The Massachusetts personnel records law, M.G.L. chapter 149, § 52C, is lengthy and quite dense, and it leaves most who read it confused as to what must and should be included in (or excluded from) an employee’s personnel record.

It’s impossible to create a one-size-fits-all solution to cover every possible personnel-record-related scenario that might arise. But the list below is designed as a concise tool to assist employers and human resources professionals in making the necessary day-to-day determinations about what information to maintain in an employee’s personnel file.

For any questions regarding this list or other employment-related issues, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Personnel Files: What to Include and Exclude


  • Basic Employee Information (name, address, phone number, emergency contact)
  • Employment/Orientation Records
    • Resume and/or Job Application
    • Offer of Employment
    • Job Title and Description
    • Handbook Acknowledgement
    • Consent Forms for Background Check and/or Drug Testing
  • Employee Contracts/Agreements (g., noncompete agreement, non-disclosure agreement)
  • Performance Records
    • Performance Evaluations
    • Self-Evaluations of Performance
    • Disciplinary Warnings
    • Performance Improvement Plans
    • Notes on Oral Performance Counselings
    • Information that Has Been or May Be Used to Negatively Affect the Employee’s Job
  • Training Records
    • Harassment Training Acknowledgment
    • Records of Other Job-Related Training
  • Compensation Records
    • Rates of Pay, Salary, or Commission
    • Other Compensation Paid (g., bonuses)
  • Termination Records
    • Termination Notice
    • Resignation Letter
    • Documentation of Involuntary Termination
    • Exit Interview
    • Separation Agreement
    • Confirmation of Payment of Wages on Separation Date (for Involuntary Terminations)
    • Documents Regarding any Claim for Unemployment Benefits

Exclude and Store Separately:

  • I-9 Forms and Copies of Identification
  • Background Test Results
  • Drug Test Results
  • Medical Records Information (including FMLA certifications, requests for reasonable accommodation for a disability)
  • Payroll Records Containing Social Security Numbers, Banking Information, or Other Confidential Information (g., IRS Form W-4, direct deposit forms, wage garnishment)
  • Workplace Complaints
  • Materials Related to Workplace Investigations
  • Personal Information About Other Employees

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