Payroll and Personnel Records

Note: Payroll and personnel records are covered by separate laws and L&I administrative policies.

Payroll Records

Expand/collapse all

  • Expand/collapse What employment records must the business keep and what rights does the worker have to obtain copies?

    The business must keep records of the worker's name, address, occupation, hours worked on a daily and weekly basis, rate or rates of pay, total wages earned, deductions, and net pay for the pay period. Businesses must keep these records for three years and upon request by the worker, make copies of these records available to them within a reasonable period of time.

  • Expand/collapse Is it legal for a business to make changes to time cards?

    Businesses must pay workers for all hours worked. It is not legal for a supervisor or employer to change a time card if the worker has worked the hours. The supervisor or employer and worker can review the time card and agree that the time recorded was not correct. The law does not require, but L&I recommends that if a change is made, both the worker and supervisor or employer initial the change. It also recommends that the time not be entirely erased but that a line is drawn through it with the change noted next to it.

For more details, see these administrative policies:

Acrobat PDF file Record Keeping - Non-agriculture (ES.D.1) (171 KB PDF)
Acrobat PDF file Record Keeping - Agriculture (ES.D.2) (134 KB PDF)

Personnel Records

  • Expand/collapse Can workers request access to their personnel files?

    Workers may request to inspect their personnel files at least once per year. Upon request by the worker, a business must make the personnel file available within a reasonable period of time. Former workers also have the same rights to review their personnel files as current workers. This law is silent on whether the employer must provide copies of information in the personnel file to workers, or whether the employer may charge workers a reasonable fee to make copies of the file. L&I has no enforcement position either way on the request for copies of the personnel file or costs for copying the personnel file.

  • Expand/collapse What documents are in personnel files?

    Generally, the personnel file may include such documents as those kept for business or legal purposes, worker qualifications, verification of training completed, job descriptions, the supervisor's files, performance evaluations, or records that are subject to reference for information given to persons outside the business, but there are no actual laws on references. L&I has no enforcement on the information a business reveals for a reference or if the business refuses to provide one at all.

  • Expand/collapse May the employer remove information from an employee's personnel file?

    Yes, the employer may make a decision to remove any irrelevant or erroneous information in the employee’s personnel file. If the current or former employee does not agree with the employer’s decision to remove the information, the employee may write a rebuttal or correction statement and request to have it placed in the file. Former employees retain this right for two years after the last date worked for the employer.


For more details, see this administrative policy:
Acrobat PDF file Access to Personnel Files (ES.C.7)(15 KB PDF)

End of main content, page footer follows.

Access Washington official state portal

   © Washington State Dept. of Labor & Industries. Use of this site is subject to the laws of the state of Washington.

Help us improve