WA Bill Gives Workers Access to Important Employment Info
Thursday, March 23, 2023
A person's work personnel file can be important to review, but some Washingtonians are finding them hard to obtain.
A bill in Olympia would ensure they get them in a timely manner. The legislation would require businesses to release workers' personnel files within 14 days or pay statutory damages to the worker.
Such files can contain key information on an employee's termination for workers' compensation cases or unemployment benefits.
Rep. Julia Reed, D-Seattle, said some companies withhold files for long periods of time or hand them over heavily redacted.
"If you're trying to get unemployment you don't have a month to wait for your employer to say that they found your file," Reed contended. "I think it's reasonable to ask employers to find things within two weeks."
Opponents of the bill said it will be hard for businesses to accommodate requests in the bill's 14-day time period, especially for small businesses. The legislation has passed the House and is scheduled for executive session in the Senate Committee on Labor and Commerce today.
Jesse Wing, a trial lawyer in Seattle, said the bill puts teeth in the current law when it comes to handing over personnel files. He is critical of businesses opposed to the measure.
"It all seems like an effort to shut down kind of a due process of an employee to know what's going on with their employment, and I think it just emphasizes the need for this bill," Wing asserted.
Reed added the goal of the bill is to help workers.
"This bill just basically tries to balance the scales a little bit and say that this information that your employer keeps on you is your information, and you should have a right to see it," Reed stressed.
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