Thursday, October 11, 2012

Are eSignatures acceptable on my contracts or eforms?

We use electronic signatures within HROnboard, and our other eforms solutions, and are often asked by clients “can I accept electronic signatures and electronic approvals on my contracts?”

We define an electronic signature, or eSignature, as the electronic process which signifies an approval/agreement to a contract, form, or policy which is presented in electronic format. Our clients such as the ATO and Brookfield Multiplex use our HROnboard solution and have elected to use eSignature solutions.

We have included electronic signatures within our technology for a number of reasons. Firstly, to create efficiencies with approval times. It’s much faster and convenient for someone to click a button onscreen, than route a document via courier or paper shuffle within an office, particularly if people are in disparate locations. Electronic signatures obviously save time and money, eliminating the need for paper, printing and courier charges. Finally, having signatures captured also ensures we eliminate risks of non compliance, with a full audit trail.

To build a high level confidence and assurance with our clients we authenticate the signer via mobile PIN technology. Additionally, we date & time stamp users eSignatures so that if proof of approval is ever required it is simple and easy to retrieve. This also adds significant efficiency when an audit takes place of employment contracts and company policies where individual proof of approval, acknowledgement or agreement is required. 

Some of our clients have implemented a full online electronic approval system whilst others have implemented a partial electronic solution. With a partial electronic solution the company requires the person doing the approving to print, sign and then upload the signed copy into our system via scanning or faxing, so we have a combination of a signed form and an electronic date and time stamp of reloading.

eSignature within a contract or eform
One of the main hurdles that will impede a company with the implementation of a full electronic approval system is the organisation’s culture. There is no legal reason not to implement the more efficient electronic system, but if the culture is one of being conservative and slow to adopt new technology, then it may be difficult to gain the acceptance from senior management. 

Disclaimer: You should discuss issues relating to the use of electronic signatures in your business with your own Legal and Compliance officers.

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