Human Resources News

HR NEWS YOU CAN USE – Issue 12 – January 2017



  • 20: Inauguration Day! Stay tuned to learn what President Trump does with some of the prior administration’s key pieces of legislation…
  • 22: You must start using the new I-9 form!

In This Issue:

  • Electronically sending legal documents …..you want to, but can you??
  • Quizzler …..HR paperwork retention
  • Workforce Motivators …..what each generation values!

Legally-Required Paperwork: To send or not to send electronically….

That is the question! In this age of technology, it would seem like a no-brainer that companies should be sending legally-required documents (like SPDs, SMMs, and other ERISA documents) out to their participants via email. The printing cost and perhaps mailing costs can really add up, depending on the number of company participants. And as we HR people know, very few employees read those documents anyway….. At least until a problem develops. Even if the employee isn’t using email every day at work, chances are pretty darned good that they are using it on their smart phone, so they have access to receive emails. But no, that isn’t good enough. There are some pretty specific rules that the Department of Labor says need to be followed, in order for the company to rely on electronic mailing of these documents. Here goes:

  1. The plan administrator takes steps to ensure that delivery through electronic media actually results in receipt by participants (e.g., perhaps by using return-receipt);
  2. Confidentiality of personal information is safeguarded;
  3. The electronic documents are prepared and furnished in a manner consistent with the style, format and content requirements of ERISA;
  4. Participants are notified that the documents are being furnished electronically and such notification explains the significance of the documents and the participant’s right to request and receive, free of charge, a paper copy of the documents.

And perhaps most importantly, the regulations generally require that the participant have ready access to the employer’s computer system at locations where the employee is reasonably expected to perform his or her duties. In addition, the regulations require that the employee’s access to the computer system be an integral part of the employee’s job duties. The provision of a kiosk or other common computer for employees who do not regularly access the employer’s computer system is not satisfactory under the regulations.

There’s another whole set of rules by which the participant without regular access to the employer’s computer system can consent to be provided their documents electronically…we’ll hold that for another day! Please contact me, or your employment attorney, for further information on this topic.


Monthly Quizzler……HR Document Retention!

I am frequently asked how long employers must retain certain HR–related paperwork. We all know it’s dangerous to keep more paperwork that the government requires of you….after all, if you have it, it can be reviewed! And you probably need that file cabinet space for other documents, anyway. Test yourself with the following documents, and we’ll discuss next month.

Per federal recordkeeping requirements, how long must you retain paperwork related to….

  1. Hiring documents (advertisements, postings, interview questions, interview notes, reference checks, and similar)?
  2. Requests for accommodation (ADA or religious)?
  3. A charge of discrimination?
  4. FMLA requests?
  5. OSHA logs, incident reports, etc.?


Workforce Motivators!

We have so many generations working together these days, and each may have slightly different motivators. What’s an employer to do?? Here’s a generalization about what motivates the 5 different generations currently in the workforce, from Maritz Motivation.

  • Traditionalists (born 1928-1945): motivated by money and respect
  • Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964): motivated by money and peer recognition
  • Generation X (born 1965-1979): motivated by bonuses and stock , and work flexibility
  • Generation Y (born 1980-1995): also known as the ‘Millennials’, motivated by stock options and lots of feedback, training and mentoring
  • Generation Z (born 1996 and later): also known as the ‘Globals’ or ‘Gamers’, motivated by meaningful work, lots of responsibility and social rewards like mentoring and lots of feedback

These are just some pieces of data to keep in the back of your mind, especially if you find that employees in certain age brackets are leaving you for other employers. It might prompt you to review your benefits package, and re-evaluate how you’re communicating with your employees.


The goal of this monthly e-newsletter is to briefly bring you current news in the HR world that could impact your company and how you interact with your employees, and also to share some tips and lessons learned for keeping your company compliant with the myriad of federal and state employment-related rules and regulations. This newsletter is not intended to provide legal guidance to you. 

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