May 15, 2015

Personnel Files and Payroll Records

Personnel files and payroll records and their contents are considered proprietary information and are strictly confidential. The practice of the university is not to release the contents of personnel files or payroll records except by operation of law.

Availability of Personnel Files

Personnel files are available for inspection by authorized university officials, including immediate supervisors, on a need-to-know basis.  A current or former employee may request to inspect or receive a copy of his or her own personnel file by making the request in writing or by using the university form which will be supplied by the employee’s manager. The employee will be permitted to review or provided a copy of the personnel file within a reasonable period after the request is made.

Before allowing the employee to review his or her file or providing a copy of the file to the employee, each dean or director should contact the Office of the Provost (for faculty) or Human Resources Administration (for staff) or the Office of the General Counsel to ensure that the information in the file to be reviewed or copied for the employee conforms to legal requirements. Under the law, certain kinds of records need not be made available for copying or inspection by the employee. These include letters of reference and documents relating to the investigation of possible criminal offenses.

In all instances, individuals reviewing documents will be accompanied by an authorized university representative.

Availability of Payroll Records

A current or former employee may request a copy of his or her own payroll records no more than three years old from Payroll Services. Payroll Services will require confirmation of employee identity and may charge the current or former employee for the reproduction of the records, which will be provided within 21 days of the request.

Release of Employee Information

Releasing to outside third parties information that has not been authorized for release by the employee can have serious legal implications for the university. Except as required by law, no information from an employee’s personnel file will be released either orally or in writing other than job title and dates of employment. The only exception to this is if the inquiry is internal, coming from another university department that is considering hiring the employee in question.

Inquiries from prospective employers of faculty should be directed to the appropriate dean. For staff employees, Payroll Services is the only entity authorized to respond to employment inquiries or to engage the services of a third party vendor to do so on the university’s behalf. In either case, only the employee’s job title, most recent hire date, termination date (if no longer employed by USC), and total time with USC will be provided.

An employee may authorize the release of salary information (e.g., for purposes of credit evaluation) by providing specific authorization for the institution requesting the salary information. Payroll Services is the university entity authorized to respond to, or engage the services of a third party to respond to, inquiries regarding income information.

Nothing in this section prohibits faculty from providing letters of recommendation for students or other faculty.

Release of Information to Comply with Subpoena

All subpoenas served for the purpose of obtaining information contained in university personnel files must be directed immediately to the Office of the General Counsel, ADM 352.

Responsible Office

General Counsel
(213) 740-7922

Issued by

Michael Quick, Provost and Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs
Todd R. Dickey, Senior Vice President, Administration
University of Southern California