Confidential and Public Information
Note: The Public Records Law has changed, effective October 1, 2010. Final policies, procedures, and interpretation of the Law are being finalized. The information provided below may be subject to change, so please be sure you verify any material with your HR manager before releasing employee records.
Segment Objective: Learning the basics of public and confidential information, policy references, and the protocol for responding to requests for public or confidential information.
The information you are now reading is public information. In fact, just about everything you produce in your job is public information such as e-mails, draft documents, letters, etc.
DHHS-HR employees work daily with considerable amounts of public and confidential information. Your job is to treat all information as if it were confidential. The integrity that we as HR professionals demonstrate by keeping confidential the personnel records that we maintain and the work that we perform cannot be overstated.
There are major items that are considered confidential information in DHHS policy. They are:
- Attorney/client discussions,
- Patient, student, resident information and health records, and
- Most employee personnel records.
Employee personnel records is where we will focus our attention.
The rule of thumb is that employee information not listed in the rules as confidential is public information. The following employee information is public:
- Employee Name
- The office where the employee is assigned
- Date of original employment or appointment to the state
- Date and type of each dismissal, suspension, or demotion for disciplinary reasons taken by DHHS. If the disciplinary action was a dismissal from DHHS, a copy of the final agency decision letter with the reason(s) for dismissal
- Contracts terms - - written or oral, past or current, with DHHS
- Current position title
- Current salary (pay, benefits, incentives, bonuses and deferred and all other forms of compensation paid by the employing agency)
- Date and amount of most recent increase or decrease in salary with the DHHS
- Date and type of each promotion, demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, or position classification with the DHHS
- Date and general reason for each promotion with the DHHS
- Agency and location to which employee is currently assigned
Inquiries that you receive for the above public information should be routed to your human resources manager for a response as quickly as possible.
Requests for employee information may come from a variety of sources such as the media, citizens, co-workers and officials from other government agencies. Requests for confidential information should be routed to your human resources manager so s/he can decide what action, if any, should be taken.
You cannot control the way the public information is used. Nor are you allowed to ask why an individual wants this information. If it is a public record, then it is a citizen’s right to request it without having to explain how it will be used.
Sometimes an employee of the division, office or facility where you work may ask for public information about a co-worker. Therefore, when an employee requests a co-worker’s public information, simply refer him or her to the HR manager and advise the HR manager of the public record request. It is important to note that such requests are to be honored, and the employee cannot be denied access by his or her supervisor.
The DHHS Secretary may choose to release a certain employee's confidential information if it is in the best interest of the department. Examples of other parties that have access to an employee’s personnel record include the supervisor, members of the General Assembly, official representatives of the government with a court order, and federal or state officials who are performing their authorized duties (i.e., State Auditor).In order to perform many of your job responsibilities, the use of the state’s HRIS (human resource information system), referred to as BEACON, along with other technology systems, is required. The access and use of BEACON or other technology systems is for work only. These systems should never be used for personal reasons in order to obtain knowledge about a coworker’s or employee’s personal and confidential records.