FAQ: Not all of our employees have work computers. Is posting the SPD and other required notices on a shared computer or sign-in kiosk sufficient for distribution purposes?
September 4, 2019
No, posting required notices on a shared computer or kiosk is not sufficient to meet the DOL’s Electronic Disclosure rules. The preamble to the final 2002 regulations specifically state that merely posting documents to a shared computer kiosk in a common area at a workplace is not an appropriate means by which to deliver documents required to be furnished to participants.
An SPD, Employer CHIP Notice, HIPAA Special Enrollment Rights notice, Medicare Part D Disclosure Notice and other required notices may be sent via email to participants who have electronic access as an integral part of their job. The plan administrator must take the necessary steps to ensure that the email system "results in actual receipt of transmitted information" (which would be satisfied by return receipts or failure to deliver notices), protects the participant's confidential information, maintains the required style/format/content requirements, includes statement as to the significance of the document, and provides a statement as to the right to request a paper version.”
The documents may also be posted to an intranet, benefits admin portal, or HR information system, but the employees must still have electronic access as an integral part of their job. It is not enough to simply post the documents on the intranet; there must be a separate notification sent to each participant notifying them of the document’s availability, the significance, and their right to request a paper copy. The notice may be a paper document or it may be electronic (email). If it is sent via email, the above procedures must be followed.
If an employee does not have electronic access at work, then the employer may request a personal email address from an employee. The employee must give affirmative consent to receive benefit-related notices in such manner.
If the employee does not have electronic access as an integral part of their job, and they do not authorize the employer to send benefits documentation to a personal email address, there is really no compliant method other than delivering by paper (either by hand or mail). If the employer provides the documents in person, it is advisable for them to get the employee’s signature confirming receipt. Otherwise, the employer has no documentation that they have distributed the notices. If delivering by mail, the employer should document their procedures and the date that the documents were mailed to specific employees.
The employer should document and retain all methods of delivery used for each employee.