In this day and age we are increasingly reliant on receiving information electronically. With the desires to “Go Green”, many companies rely on electronic delivery of information to their clients. With respect to required ESOP notices, however, it is important to understand the rules of what can be delivered electronically to participants, and how those notices must be delivered. As an example, just putting a copy of your Summary Plan Description (SPD) on your company website may not be a sufficient method of delivering that document to your employees.
The Department of Labor (DOL) issued a regulation in 2002 which is commonly referred to as a “Safe Harbor” method for delivery of plan disclosure documents. Documents such as the SPD, Summaries of Material Modification to the SPD (SMM) and Summary Annual Reports (SAR) can be electronically posted to a website for participants to access. These electronic accesses to those plan documents though are limited to two categories of participants: