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Tuesday Tidbit: Emailing Essential Employee Communications - What are the Rules?

It is becoming more and more common for important employee communications to be sent by email. However, there are very specific rules that govern this method of distribution for certain documents, including your Plan Document(s) and the reporting forms that will be required in early 2016. Some of these rules:

  • It is okay to deliver essential communications by email if the employee has access to these documents at any location where he/she performs the duties of the job. It is not enough to have access somewhere at work or have access at a common location like a break room. Access to a computer has to be a specific part of their job function.
  • If an employee does not have work-related access, documents can still be emailed if consent is obtained. Each document requires separate consent and must specifically state the following:
    • The name or type of document to which the consent applies
    • A statement that consent can be withdrawn at any time
    • An email address where the employee will be able to receive future announcements and/or documents sent electronically
    • The procedures for updating the email address
    • The procedures for withdrawing consent
    • A statement of the right to request and obtain a printed version of the document and whether there is a charge and if so, how much
    • The system requirements needed to access the document. If these requirements subsequently change a new notice must be sent and new consent obtained
  • When documents are provided electronically, notification must be sent either in electronic or paper for to each affected person explaining the significance of the document and the right to request a printed version.
  • You can’t just send a document electronically or post it on the company Intranet
  • Although not required, it is good practice to request acknowledgement of receipt from each person affected without alerting everyone.

Documents may be distributed electronically, but you must follow the rules!