The Skinny on Employee Wage Statement and Personnel File Requests

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California employers often receive letters requesting a copy of an employee’s wage statements and personnel file. Employers often contact us about these letters. Below we answer some of the most common questions we receive about them.

What The Heck Are These Letters? And am I Sued?

These letters, often written on law-firm letterhead, are legal requests made under the California Labor Code. The Labor Code provides employees (and former employees) a legal right to obtain a copy of their wage statements (paystubs) and a copy of their personnel file (collection of your employee’s files, such as offer letters and contacts).

These letters do not mean you are sued—at least not yet. These letters are simply a request for a copy of the information that employers keep or generate. But do not let that lull you into a false sense of security: Complying with these letters is mandatory, and non-compliance subjects you to monetary penalties. And too often these letters are telltale signs that a potential legal claim is down the pipeline.

How Do I Respond to the Letter?

You respond to the letter by collecting the records that are requested and producing them (often electronically) by the deadline for production. For wage statements, that deadline is 21 days from the date of the request. For personnel-file records, that deadline is 30 days from the date of the request. You need not do or say anything else in your response to the records request.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Technically, you do not need a lawyer to respond to the letter. That said, it is often advantageous to do so as counsel can advise on what sort of records need to be produced—particularly in response to the request for a copy of an employee’s personnel file, a somewhat nebulous concept—and from how far back. In addition, counsel is recommended as these sorts of letters are often a foreshadow of legal action to come.

For more information about employee wage statements and personnel file requests, please contact us at

This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between MNK Law and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material.