A. Yes. However, just sending them is not enough to meet ERISA requirements; you must ensure the intended recipients are actually getting them.
Specifically, ERISA requires SPDs to be furnished using “measures reasonably calculated to ensure actual receipt of the material” via “methods likely to result in full distribution.” Electronic delivery is one way to meet this requirement.
Any electronically delivered documents must be “prepared and furnished in a manner consistent with applicable style, format, and content requirements.” Therefore, it is a good idea to test the electronic document and make sure formatting and style are correct.
Unlike first class mail or hand-delivery options, electronic delivery does not work the same for all recipients. Instead compliance differs depending on whether the recipients:
Both groups of recipients must be notified of their rights to receive paper copies of the documents (at no charge), and reasonable and appropriate steps must be taken to safeguard confidentiality of personal information related to accounts and benefits. A best practice is for employers to ensure return-receipt or notice of undelivered mail features are enabled. Employers may conduct periodic reviews or surveys to confirm receipt as well.
Just emailing the documents or posting them on the company’s intranet or benefit administration portal is not enough. Each time an electronic document is furnished, a notice (electronic or paper) must be provided to each recipient describing the significance of the document.
ThinkHR customers can join Stacy Barrow and ThinkHR Legal Editor Nicole Quinn-Gato for a webinar on March 29, as they reveal the common myths and misconceptions companies have about plan document compliance under ERISA.
ThinkHR will be introducing a simple solution for creating and storing compliant wrap and POP documents in the coming weeks. Talk to your broker to learn more about the easy-to-use, fully-supported Benefits Compliance Suite Elite.