City of LA City Services Directory GSD Home What's New! Bids Directory of Public GSD Services
 
Personnel Services
Documentation and Supervisors' Notes
 
Asset Management Building Maintenance Construction Forces Executive Division Facility Services Finance & Special Operations Fleet Services Fuel Services & Env. Compliance Mail Services Management Information Services Office of Public Safety Parking Services Personnel Services Publishing Services Standards Supply Services
  1. What is the difference between a personnel file and a supervisor's file on an employee?
  2. Okay, then, what is a "division file"?
  3. What should a supervisor's file look like?
  4. What do I tell the employee and his representative when they demand to see my "file" on the employee?
  5. Should I let anyone from Personnel Services see my "file" or notes on an employee?
  6. Should I refer to my notes during my testimony before a discipline hearing officer, or in any other legal or administrative proceeding?
  7. What if I receive some "legal" demand to see my notes? For example, how do I respond to a subpoena for all of my files and documents pertaining to the employee?
  8. An employee insists on putting a "rebuttal" statement in my supervisory file. Must I?
  9. What do I do with documents that do not belong in either the department personnel file, or my supervisory notes? For example, a memo to an employee requiring doctor's notes for each future absence. Or, a memo to the employee reminding her that she should not repeat a mistake.
  10. Do my supervisory notes need to be accurate, well organized and well written?
  11. Is there some "formula" or minimum requirement for what I put in my notes?
  12. With all this hassle about supervisory notes, aren't they more work than they are worth? Why bother?

What is the difference between a personnel file and a supervisor’s file on an employee?
There is a BIG difference.

A personnel file is the official employment file for each employee in the department. It is kept in the Department Personnel Office. Only official documents, those which the employee has a copy, has seen or is at least aware, can be placed in the personnel file. The personnel file belongs to the employer (department) and is maintained for the employer’s purposes. For the most part, the personnel file contains performance evaluations, payroll documents, disciplinary documents or official commendations issued by the Division Manager, General Manager, Council or Mayor.

A supervisor’s file on an employee is documentation of incidents, behavior, communications, counseling, compliments, attendance patterns, or any other note the supervisor wishes to store to help refresh her memory at some later date. Only the current supervisor can place documentation or notes in this file, remove them or even review them. The file is not to be open for review by other supervisors, managers, employees, unions, or even the employee. Since it can contain anything the supervisor wants, the file or its contents cannot be considered in the hiring process, or used as evidence to support an evaluation or disciplinary action.

Okay, then, what is a "division file?"
Usually a division file contains employee records about the employee’s employment anywhere in the division. But, it cannot contain unofficial records from supervisor’s files. It is reviewable by division management and other supervisors in the division, not just the current supervisor. Records you would find in a division file include copies of requests for sick leave and vacation, doctor’s notes excusing absences, commendation letters from other departments or managers, grievances, complaints, etc.

The division file is not an official file, which can be reviewed by the employee, her representative, or others outside the division. Documents from the file may be used as evidence in evaluations or discipline IF the employee was given a copy, knows about the document, or prepared/obtained the document.

What should a supervisor’s file look like?
There is no set format for a supervisor’s file. It can be a calendar, notebook, clipboard, logbook, computer file, or any manner of storing the notes. IT CANNOT BE PUBLIC. It has to be locked away, and kept from view by anyone else. Remember, the supervisor’s file is for the benefit of the current supervisor only; to help him remember dates, times, places, names, events, etc.

What do I tell the employee and his representative when they demand to see my "file" on the employee?
First, they do not even need to know that you have a file. Second, any notes you keep are for you only.

Thus, the best response is to refer the employee or rep to the official personnel file in Personnel Services. They should call the Personnel Records Supervisor to make arrangements to review the file in City Hall South.

Should I let anyone from Personnel Services see my "file" or notes on an employee?
Yes. But our interest in your supervisory notes is only to clarify something you told us in an investigation (discipline, discrimination, workers’ compensation, etc.). We should not need to make a copy of your notes.

Should I refer to my notes during my testimony before a discipline hearing officer, or in any other legal or administrative proceeding?
Be honest, but try to refrain from referring to confidential notes. Reference to "secret" notes as if they are proof of anything sends the wrong message to an arbitrator or hearing officer.

You should never open your notes while testifying unless the GSD representative advises you to do so beforehand. The evidence in any hearing is your testimony -not the notes prepared to refresh your memory.

What if I receive some "legal" demand to see my notes? For example, how do I respond to a subpoena for all of my files and documents pertaining to the employee?
Do not do anything without first checking with your Liaison Personnel Analyst, who may need to check with the City Attorney. We may have to produce the notes, but only after first considering relevance and confidentiality.

An employee insists on putting a "rebuttal" statement in my supervisory file. Must I?
No. Any file you keep is for your purposes only and is not the appropriate place for an employee to be filing notes. You can, however, put your own note in your file on the employee’s comments. Again, this will help you remember what the employee said in response should you need to share this information with an investigator or in a hearing.

What do I do with documents that do not belong in either the department personnel file, or my supervisory notes? For example, a memo to an employee requiring doctor’s notes for each future absence. Or, a memo to the employee reminding her that she should not repeat a mistake.
This type of documentation should be retained in the division files. Since the employee already has a copy (or the original), there is no problem producing the document for review by GSD management or personnel staff investigating a discipline case. We may want to produce documents from a division file as evidence at a hearing.

But, be sure division files are maintained in strictest confidence. Sharing information in division personnel files with the wrong people can get you and your bosses in trouble. If you have any questions, call your Liaison Personnel Analyst.

Do my supervisory notes need to be accurate, well organized and well written?
The answer is NO. The notes are what you think you need to refresh your memory. That is why we do not care how you keep your notes, where (other than they must be kept out of sight), or how legible. We do not plan to use your notes - just your memory of events, dates, times, places and people. As long as you can read and understand your notes (even if written like doctor’s notes), that is all that counts.

Is there some "formula" or minimum requirement for what I put in my notes?
Not at all. Again, your notes should serve to remind you of times, places, dates, events, names, etc. such that you can recall these details later.

With all this hassle about supervisory notes, aren’t they more work than they are worth? Why bother? These are questions you need to answer. Just be sure you can recall important events when you need to complete an evaluation, take discipline, prepare a commendation, and testify in a hearing.

Back to Top
Index Personnel Home City Employment Opportunities Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Accommodation & Placement Hiring & Position Authorities Employee Recognition FAQ Employee Training & Development FAQ GSD Training Center Standards of Conduct Discipline FAQ Grievance Handling Overtime Workers' Compensation & Temporary Modified Work Sick Leave Monitoring Drug/Alcohol Testing Sexual Harassment Documentation & Supervisory Notes Contact Us