Policy 75 – Official Employment Files of Regular Faculty Members


1 July 1998


28 February 2020. Amended, official titles only



1. Preamble

A faculty member's Official Employment File is the collection of documents relevant to her/his employment at the University of Waterloo. It includes documents related to initial appointment, reappointment, tenure, promotions, leaves of absence, and annual performance reviews. It may also include letters of commendation or complaint, and routine information concerning salary, benefits, etcetera.

This policy sets out the procedures for maintaining, accessing, and using the Official Employment File. Anonymous materials are not to be included in the File. Faculty members have access to their own Official Employment Files in order that they can verify the accuracy of the contents, request removal of inappropriate items, and add explanatory comments and materials.

2. General

  1. The University shall maintain an Official Employment File for each regular faculty member, hereinafter referred to as the File. This File shall be the only one used in decisions respecting any and all terms and conditions of employment of a regular faculty member of the University of Waterloo, hereinafter referred to as the Member. This does not preclude the University from using University files that are not individual-specific in proceedings in which a Member is involved.
  2. Part of the File shall be kept in the Office of the Dean of the Member's Faculty, part shall be located in the Office of the Chair of the Member's department, and part (information for pension, benefits, payroll) shall be located in the Department of Human Resources. Together, these three parts shall comprise the entire File.
  3. Copies of some or all of the materials contained in the File may be used for normal University administrative purposes, and may be filed elsewhere for such purposes. Such documents shall be clearly identifiable as copies of the File material. All conditions specified in this policy to apply to the File apply equally to all copies of all or part of the File.

3. Contents of the File

A. Nature of the Contents

  1. All documents relevant to the employment of a Member and that may be used by the University in its employment relationship with the Member shall be part of the File.

    Documentation relevant to the employment of a Member may be incomplete for the period prior to the implementation date of this policy. Any such documentation not in the File as of the implementation date shall not be added subsequently or used to her/his disadvantage.
  2. Without limiting A.1 above, all formal documents and materials (except for copies of books, articles, or other similar materials) used in arriving at a decision regarding a Member in any official review or proceeding (other than grievance and arbitration proceedings) shall be considered to be part of the File. These reviews and proceedings include, but are not limited to, those concerning appointment, reappointment, granting of tenure or continuing appointment, promotion, and annual performance evaluation. Documents will be considered to be part of the Member's File when the review or proceeding has been completed. No such documents or materials shall be deleted from a Member's File without the express written permission of that Member.

    Dossiers for reappointment, tenure and promotion may be stored separately and provided when required, subject to III.below. Signed summary sheets for annual performance reviews shall be placed in the File, but activity reports and other backup material may be stored separately.
  3. Notwithstanding A.1 above, the File shall not include materials assembled in relation to administrative appointments and reappointments, nominations for internal and external honours and awards, or applications for research grants and contracts. With respect to initial appointment, the File shall include only materials supplied by the Member, signed letters of reference, and correspondence between the Member and the University.
  4. No anonymous, undated, or unsigned material shall be placed in the File. Routine financial and administrative information of a strictly non-evaluative nature, and aggregated statistical information which is recorded in evaluations and official minutes of meetings are not considered to be anonymous within the meaning of this policy. Upon the request of a Member any anonymous material contained in her/his File at the time of implementation of this policy shall be destroyed by the University.

    Anonymous material, if maintained contrary to this policy, shall not be submitted as evidence in any proceeding involving a Member. If such material is submitted, it shall be struck from the record and not considered part of the evidence.
  5. Except as specified in A.2 above, documents normally shall be added to the File within 30 working days of their creation or receipt by the Chair or Dean. Where this 30 day limit is exceeded (e.g., where student complaints are held until course marks have been submitted), a justification for the delay will be appended.
  6. The University shall notify a Member of any addition of non-routine material to the File within five working days, and shall provide a copy of the material. Similarly, within five working days the University shall notify a member of any deletion of non-routine material from the File, and shall destroy the deleted material or return it to the Member.
  7. The Member may challenge the inclusion of any item in the File. Subject to A.4 above, the Member has the right to have added to the File, at any time, additional relevant material, including her/his written comments on the accuracy or meaning of any items in the File.
  8. Except as specified in Appendix A, disciplinary letters shall not be used as evidence against a Member for any purpose whatsoever, when no further disciplinary measures have been imposed on her/him for three subsequent academic years. At her/his request (subject to the conditions of Appendix A) such letters and any supporting documentation shall then be deleted from the File and destroyed.

B. Confidential Material

  1. Signed confidential letters of reference received in relation to initial appointment, reappointment, promotion, tenure or continuing appointment shall not be shown to the Member except where access is provided under another University of Waterloo Policy (e.g., Policy 77). Promotion and tenure dossiers created prior to the implementation date shall be treated in the same manner as confidential letters of reference. Subject to these provisions, no materials to which access by a Member is restricted shall be included in the File.
  2. For promotion and tenure dossiers created after the implementation date, the Member shall have access to all materials excepting the signed confidential letters of reference. The list of names from which referees were selected shall be included in the File.
  3. Assessments and evaluations by Chairs, Deans and other academic administrators of the University will not be treated as confidential letters under B.1 except where they are part of tenure and promotion dossiers created prior to the implementation date.
  4. Notwithstanding B.1 above, where a Member has initiated a grievance in which he/she claims that the confidential materials specified in B.1 are potentially relevant, the Member shall be provided with copies of these materials, excluding any references in them that would identify the authors of confidential letters of reference.

    When items treated as confidential under B.1 above are to be used by the University in the course of proceedings to resolve a grievance and where, in the opinion of the arbitrator(s) the identity of the author is substantially relevant to the resolution of the difference, the arbitrator(s) shall be supplied with the material, and may make use of it as is essential to her/his (their) decision, having due regard to its confidentiality.

C. File Inventory

The requirements of this section shall not apply to routine financial or administrative information of a non-evaluative nature.

From the implementation date of this policy:

  1. Each part of the File shall contain a record indicating which individuals have had non-routine access to the File, on what date, and for what purpose.
  2. A record of which documents from the File have been copied, and where the copies have been placed, shall be kept in the File.
  3. In the event of a grievance or disciplinary action involving a Member, an inventory list of her/his File shall be made by the University and retained thereafter in that part of the File located in the Office of the Faculty Dean.

4. Access to the File

  1. The Member shall have access to all material in the File, except as specified in 3.B above.
  2. Subject to 3.B of this Policy, upon reasonable notice and upon the presentation of appropriate identification, the Member or the Member's duly authorized representative shall have access to her/his File during normal business hours in the presence of a person designated by the Dean, Chair, or Associate Provost, Human Resources. The File shall not be removed from the office of the Dean, the department Chair, or Human Resources.
  3. Subject to 3.B of this Policy, in the event of a grievance or disciplinary action involving her/him, a Member, or duly authorized representative, shall have the right to obtain from the University, on reasonable notice in writing, at University expense, one copy of any relevant contents of the File added prior to the implementation date, and not already supplied. A Member may obtain at her/his own expense, on a cost recovery basis, copies of any or all of the contents of the File, subject to 3.B of this policy.
  4. The File shall not be made available in whole or in part to any person or institution, except at the written request of the Member or as part of established assessment procedures or other proceedings specified in 2.A above or where required by law. When individual information is released under law, the details of the release shall immediately be conveyed in writing to the Member.


Retention of Documents Beyond Three Years

  1. Notwithstanding 3.A.8 above, the University may retain a disciplinary letter and the documentation supporting it if the grounds for discipline included harassment, discrimination, or other verbally, physically or psychologically abusive behaviour by the Member.
  2. Where a disciplinary letter and supporting documentation is retained pursuant to Part 1 of this Appendix, the material shall be placed in a sealed file kept by the Office of the Provost. The file shall have a code on its exterior to identify the contents. The Vice-President, Academic & Provost shall maintain a separate secure confidential file which relates the code to a description of the contents of the sealed file in sufficient detail to identify the nature of the abusive behaviour which led to the creation of the file. No person other than the Vice-President, Academic & Provost and the Member shall have access to the sealed file (subject to 4).
  3. Where the Vice-President, Academic & Provost, upon review of the contents of the sealed file, believes that the contents may be relevant to determining the validity of allegations that the Member is currently engaging in a pattern of harassment, discrimination, or other abusive behaviour, and if the University subsequently initiates disciplinary action against the Member partly on the basis of evidence contained in the sealed file, such evidence may be reviewed by the parties to the disciplinary process, and by the parties to any grievance or arbitration proceeding which may challenge such disciplinary action.
  4. No copies of any document contained in the sealed file may be made, except for the purpose of disciplinary actions taken in accordance with Part 3 of this Appendix, or for the purposes of grievance and arbitration proceedings challenging such actions.
  5. Notwithstanding Parts 1-3 of this Appendix, any disciplinary letter and supporting documents retained by the University in accordance with those subsections shall be removed from the sealed file and destroyed if no further disciplinary measures have been imposed on the Member on grounds of harassment, discrimination, or other abusive behaviour for a period of ten years subsequent to the date of such letter.