Benefits Buzz

Electronic Delivery Rules

Posted on February 22nd, 2023

Did you know that there are specific rules in place to electronically furnish plan documents and written notices that are required to be distributed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA)? This includes electronic distribution of documents and notices by email or by posting to an internal company website. The general requirements are as follows:

The plan administrator must take steps to ensure the actual receipt of the documents or notices.
The plan administrator must provide notification to participants about the availability of the documents or notices (according to the notification deadlines). It is not sufficient to simply post all documents and notices to a company website and provide an annual or periodic reminder on the availability of such documents or notices.
If the documents or notices include personal information, the plan administrator must take steps to ensure the privacy of that information.
The plan administrator must provide a paper copy of the documents or notices upon request (and generally at no charge to the employee).

Plan documents and notices can be furnished electronically to employees who have work-related computer access. This means the employee can access documents and notices at any location where they are expected to perform their job (e.g., at the office or when working remotely). Computer access must be an integral part of the employee’s job, and employees must be informed that they can obtain a paper copy of any document or notice upon request. There is no consent required to furnish documents or notices electronically when an employee has work-related computer access.

Employees who have limited access or no access to a computer as part of their job should only be provided documents and notices electronically if they provide consent. Employers should maintain documentation of
every consent, and the consent should 1) list the types of documents or notices for which the consent will apply 2) indicate the consent can be withdrawn at any time, 3) provide instructions for withdrawing the consent, and 4) indicate paper copies of documents and notices will be provided upon request.


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