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Employment Verifications and References

Chapter 4010
Issued September 19, 2001 Revised January 30, 2006 and February 28, 2007

Table of Contents

.010 Introduction
.020 Statutes, Regulations and Policies
.030 Definitions
.040 Employment Verification
.050 Employment References
.060 Access to Employee Files
.070 Kansas Open Records Act
.080 Questions
.200 Authorization to Release Information

.010 Introduction

This chapter outlines the policies and procedures regarding the content and disclosure of information in employee's official personnel records, including reference guidelines.

.020 Statutes, Regulations and Policies

The Kansas Administrative Regulations (K.A.R.), Article 13, Records, Reports, Research and Evaluation of Personnel System.

The Kansas Statute Annotated (KSA) 44-117 Prevention of Blacklisting

KSA 44-119a Employer immunity from liability and suit for disclosure of employment information

KSA 45-215 et.seq. Kansas Open Records Act

The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) 34 C.F.R. Part 99 and its implementing regulations.

.030 Definitions

Employee's Personnel File refers to the official permanent file maintained in the Division of Human Resources.

External Employers are those not affiliated with Kansas State University or other State of Kansas agencies.

Internal Employers are all University departments including those affiliated with Kansas State University and other State of Kansas agencies.

Student Employees are those individuals appointed as hourly student employees or graduate assistants, graduate research assistants or graduate teaching assistants.

Written Authorization refers to consent provided to a supervisor or to a Human Resources Official in writing by an employee or former employee that allows for the release of specific information contained in the personnel file.

.040 Employment Verification

Kansas State University uses The Work Number. to provide automated employment and income verifications on our employees. The Work Number is an automated service that provides employees with the ability to quickly provide proof of their employment or income. Employees benefit from having control of the process, since they authorize access to their information. The Work Number is widely known to mortgage lenders, banks, apartment complexes and others who may need proof of an employee's employment or income, and it is easy for them to use. The Work Number can be used anytime, anywhere - available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Refer to Employment Verifications for information about using The Work Number.

.050 Employment References

When asked for a reference on a present or former employee by a prospective external employer, supervisors may only provide:

  1. the name of the employing agency and department;
  2. length of time the employee has served in the employee's current position;
  3. letters of commendation; and
  4. any documents regarding personal conduct and work performance as long as they are in compliance with K.S.A. 44-117 which prohibits employers from preventing discharged employees from obtaining employment by other employers.

Supervisors will not provide information to prospective external employers on an employee's work performance unless the present or former employee provides written authorization. A sample Authorization to Release Information form is included as Attachment .200.

Under the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) and its implementing regulations, personally identifiable employment information from student records may not be disclosed without the student's written authorization. A sample Authorization to Release Information form is included as Attachment .200.

When asked for a reference on a present or former employee by a prospective internal employer, supervisors are not required to have written authorization from the present or former employee.

In all reference inquiries, when information pertinent to work performance is released, supervisors will provide honest, accurate information that is consistent with written performance evaluations. The release of any additional information requires written authorization by the present or former employee, and all such inquiries will be referred to the Division of Human Resources.

All responses to employment inquiries for references will be truthful and straightforward. Innuendo and false or misleading information will not be released. To do so may expose the University and individual to potential liability for defamation or other legal injury. As long as the employer discloses only truthful documented information as outlined in this chapter about a current or former employee, the employer is immune from civil liability in accordance with K.S.A. 44-119a.

Departments are encouraged to develop an authorization form similar to the sample (Attachment .200). The employment reference policy would be explained to the employee upon termination and the form would be presented as part of the exit interview process. The authorization form will be retained in the departmental personnel file.

.060 Access to Employee Files

Employees may request to view their personnel file upon scheduling an appointment with a Division of Human Resources staff member.

Only an immediate supervisor and other University officials with an employment-related reason may review specific documents in an employee's personnel file without the employee's written authorization.

A prospective external or internal employer, individual or firm may request to view an employee's personnel file. This request will only be granted if the request is submitted in writing to the Vice President for Human Resourcesand is accompanied by the written authorization of the present or former employee. A copy of this request and authorization shall be placed in the employee's personnel file.

Federal and State agencies having a proper interest and an established need may review an employee's personnel file without written authorization of the present or former employee. All such inquires shall be referred to the Division of Human Resources.

Authorized review of an employee's personnel file shall be arranged at a time and place mutually convenient for the HR Staff and the requesting party. All authorized reviews will be documented in the employee's personnel file.

Employee personnel files maintained at departmental or college levels are subject to the same degree of confidentiality as applies to the official permanent file maintained in the Division of Human Resources.

.070 Kansas Open Records Act

Release of information must comply with the Kansas Open Records Act, PPM Chapter 3060. Persons requesting copies of documents contained in official personnel files will be charged fees to cover expenses as provided in Section .020 of that chapter.

.080 Questions

Human Resources (HR) is responsible for this policy. The Vice President or designee must approve any exception to this policy or related procedures. Questions should be directed to Human Resources at 785-532-6277 or hr@ksu.edu.