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Employee’s Right To Inspect Employment
Records Kept By Employer

Posted on January 19, 2013 by S. Ward Heinrichs
Employee’s Right To Inspect Employment Records Kept By Employer


Employers are required to keep records of all itemized wage statement information required by Labor Code §226(a).This information includes: (1) gross wages earned, (2) total hours worked by the employee, (3) the number of piece-rate units earned and any applicable piece rate if the employee is paid on a piece-rate basis, (4) all deductions,(5) net wages earned, (6) the dates of the period for which the employee is paid, (7) the name of the employee and the last four digits of his/her social security number,(8) the name and address of the employer, and (9) the employee’s hourly rate. Employers are also required by §226 to keep a record of all deductions made from payments of wages. All this information must be kept for 3 years.

Employees have the right to inspect and/or copy these records.[1] The employee may make an oral or written request to inspect and/or copy these records. Then, the employer has 21 days to comply with the request.[2] The employer may choose to copy the payroll records for the employee and the cost of reproduction may be charged to the employee. An employer who fails to comply with the employee’s request within 21 days may be required to pay a $750 penalty to the employee.[3]


Employees have the right to inspect the personnel records related to their performance.[4] Employers can require an employee to inspect his/her personnel records on his/her own time provided the records are kept or brought to the workplace. The employer must allow this within a reasonable time of the employee’s request to do so. However, if the records are stored off-site and the employee must travel to the location, the inspection must be during work hours and the employer must compensate the employee for his/her time.

The employer does not have to provide the employee with copies of his/her entire personnel file, however, he must provide the employee with copies of all documents the employee has signed that relates to obtaining or holding employment.[5] This includes signed employment applications, employment contracts, signed discipline documents, etc.

There are some documents that the employer can withhold from inspection. Employers are not required to release: letters of reference, records relating to the investigation of a possible criminal offense, records that were obtained before the employee’s employment, records prepared by an examination committee, or records obtained in connection with a promotional exam.[6]

[1] Labor Code §226(b).

[2] Labor Code §226(c).

[3] Labor Code §226(f).

[4] Labor Code §1198.5.

[5] Labor Code §432.

[6] Labor Code §1198.5(d).

S. Ward Heinrichs, Esq.
Employment Law Office of Ward Heinrichs
4565 Ruffner Street, Suite 207
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 408-7543 (fax)

Employment Law Office of WARD HEINRICHS

4565 Ruffner St. Suite 207 San Diego 92111


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