This week’s question comes from Heather, an HR director.
Can We Deliver Our Notices of Coverage Options by E-Mail?
I know that we our required to deliver our Obamacare notices (Notice to Employees of Coverage Options under Fair Labor Standards Act §18B) by October 1, 2013. Can we deliver our Notices of Coverage Options by e-mail?
Answer: The Notice to Employees of Coverage Options under Fair Labor Standards Act §18B may be delivered electronically as long as the safe-harbor requirements of 29 CFR 2520.104b-1(c) are met.
29 CFR 2520.104b-1(c)
(c) Disclosure through electronic media
(1) Except as otherwise provided by applicable law, rule or regulation, the administrator of an employee benefit plan furnishing documents through electronic media is deemed to satisfy the requirements of paragraph (b)(1) of this section with respect to an individual described in paragraph (c)(2) if:
(i) The administrator takes appropriate and necessary measures reasonably calculated to ensure that the system for furnishing documents—
(A) Results in actual receipt of transmitted information (e.g., using return-receipt or notice of undelivered electronic mail features, conducting periodic reviews or surveys to confirm receipt of the transmitted information); and
(B) Protects the confidentiality of personal information relating to the individual’s accounts and benefits (e.g., incorporating into the system measures designed to preclude unauthorized receipt of or access to such information by individuals other than the individual for whom the information is intended);
(ii) The electronically delivered documents are prepared and furnished in a manner that is consistent with the style, format and content requirements applicable to the particular document;
(iii) Notice is provided to each participant, beneficiary or other individual, in electronic or non-electronic form, at the time a document is furnished electronically, that apprises the individual of the significance of the document when it is not otherwise reasonably evident as transmitted (e.g., the attached document describes changes in the benefits provided by your plan) and of the right to request and obtain a paper version of such document; and
(iv) Upon request, the participant, beneficiary or other individual is furnished a paper version of the electronically furnished documents.
(2) Paragraph (c)(1) shall only apply with respect to the following individuals:
(i) A participant who—
(A) Has the ability to effectively access documents furnished in electronic form at any location where the participant is reasonably expected to perform his or her duties as an employee; and
(B) With respect to whom access to the employer’s or plan sponsor’s electronic information system is an integral part of those duties; or
(ii) A participant, beneficiary or any other person entitled to documents under Title I of the Act or regulations issued thereunder (including, but not limited to, an “alternate payee” within the meaning of section 206(d)(3) of the Act and a “qualified beneficiary” within the meaning of section 607(3) of the Act) who—
(A) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(2)(ii) (B) of this section, has affirmatively consented, in electronic or non-electronic form, to receiving documents through electronic media and has not withdrawn such consent;
(B) In the case of documents to be furnished through the Internet or other electronic communication network, has affirmatively consented or confirmed consent electronically, in a manner that reasonably demonstrates the individual’s ability to access information in the electronic form that will be used to provide the information that is the subject of the consent, and has provided an address for the receipt of electronically furnished documents;
(C) Prior to consenting, is provided, in electronic or non-electronic form, a clear and conspicuous statement indicating:
(1) The types of documents to which the consent would apply;
(2) That consent can be withdrawn at any time without charge;
(3) The procedures for withdrawing consent and for updating the participant’s, beneficiary’s or other individual’s address for receipt of electronically furnished documents or other information;
(4) The right to request and obtain a paper version of an electronically furnished document, including whether the paper version will be provided free of charge; and
(5) Any hardware and software requirements for accessing and retaining the documents; and
(D) Following consent, if a change in hardware or software requirements needed to access or retain electronic documents creates a material risk that the individual will be unable to access or retain electronically furnished documents:
(1) Is provided with a statement of the revised hardware or software requirements for access to and retention of electronically furnished documents;
(2) Is given the right to withdraw consent without charge and without the imposition of any condition or consequence that was not disclosed at the time of the initial consent; and
(3) Again consents, in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (c)(2)(ii)(A) or paragraph (c)(2)(ii)(B) of this section, as applicable, to the receipt of documents through electronic media.
Contact Vision Payroll for Further Information
Contact Vision Payroll if you have further questions on the Notice to Employees of Coverage Options under Fair Labor Standards Act §18B.