In order for electronic transmission to be permitted, the employee/participant must be able to effectively access electronic documents at any location where they are reasonably expected to perform their job duties, and where access to the company’s electronic information system, e-mail, is an integral part of said duties. This is applicable to employees who telecommute, as long as they are able to access the company’s information delivery system. An example of this is accessing the information via a VPN.
The system used to provide the document must result in actual receipt of the transmission. Using a return receipt or non-delivery receipts is an acceptable method to ensure this. Some form of delivery confirmation is necessary to adhere to the rules of SPD distribution. If the electronic transmission is not successful, or if mail is returned as undeliverable, an alternative method must be used, such as a paper copy sent via mail.
It is also necessary to inform employees/participants about the significance of the document being provided if it is not obvious from the transmittal. This can be done in either writing or electronically. They should also be informed that they have the right to request and obtain a printed copy of the document.
Lastly, the document must adhere to ERISA style, format, and content requirements. If the information is being made available via a company website, the employer must send a paper or electronic notice directing employees to the website. This notice can alternatively include a link to the company’s website home page.
Instead of attaching the actual document, a hyperlink to an internal or external website is permissible. The individual must be able to access the link within the scope of their job duties and the electronic version of the document does not change the information contained in the paper version.