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The Rundown on Employee Privacy Laws

Lucere Legal helps small business owners be compliant with employee privacy laws

In the last year, Minnesota regulatory agencies have put great attention toward enforcing privacy laws. Businesses must be especially cautious to maintain the confidentiality of personnel files, medical records, and more. Ideally, you should give your personnel files no less care than a game-changing business plan.

Secure containers, from a locked filing cabinet to a fireproof safe, are a must for any confidential materials. Access to them is best limited to only those who have a legitimate business reason to access them, typically a manager or supervisor.

As far as an employee’s medical records are concerned, the consequences of violating their privacy can be catastrophic. Both must be treated per regulations in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the American Disabilities Act (ADA).

Medical records are required by ADA regulations to be kept entirely separate from personnel files, with equally strict confidentiality. The only individuals allowed access to these records are government officials, insurance companies requiring medical exams, first aid and safety workers should the employee need treatment, or the employee’s supervisor if a disability of the worker affects their work schedule or duties.

Employers are furthermore prohibited from gathering genetic information on employees by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). In the event that an employer inadvertently becomes party to this information, they are required to store it in yet another set of separate, confidential files.

Workplaces of over 50 employees who have their own, self-administered health plans are required to:

  1. appoint an internal privacy supervisor,
  2. issue and enforce policies and procedures to protect employee privacy, and
  3. notify employees of these privacy rights.

In order to avoid costly fines and litigation, you should consult with an experienced business lawyer to ensure compliance.

If you are an employer needing information on the development of employee policies and procedures that conform with federal and state law, contact us at (612) 206-3701 or fill out our contact form to schedule a small business consultation session.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net

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