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  • Is it Valid to Announce the Internal Rules by Electronic Means?

    Is it Valid to Announce the Internal Rules by Electronic Means?

    Company A dissolved the labor contract with Ding, with the reason that Ding had severely violated the “Administrative Measures on Labor Discipline of Company A”, due to Ding’s habitual absenteeism. Ding filed a labor arbitration against Company A. Ding stated that Company A released the internal rules on its official website, the reader had to click the link and download the document, so this was not the way to announce as required by relevant laws. The labor arbitration committee supported Ding’s claim, but both the courts of the first-instance and second-instance rejected Ding’s claim.

    The “Labor Contract Law” prescribes that the employer shall make an announcement of the internal rules and important events which are directly related to the interests of the employees or inform the employees of these rules or events. However, the law does not set any requirements on the “announcement” or require specific means. In the past, the common mean is to announce the rules on the public notice board, take pictures of the board and require employees to sign on the receiving list. In the recent years, more and more companies use electronic means, such as email, corporate WeChat, DingDing and etc.. Article 63 of the “Civil Procedure Law” prescribes that the electronic data belongs to evidence, so in principle, the electronic data has the corresponding legal effect. But there are still some judgments in which the electronic data had been deemed as invalid, such as (2015)Pu Min Yi (Min) Chu No.20873, (2019) Su 01 Min Zhong No.5357 and so on.

    How to guarantee the effectiveness of electronic data related to the announcement of the internal rules?

    First, the electronic means shall ensure that all the employees have been notified. For example, in the case (2015) Pu Min Yi (Min) Chu No.20873, the court held that the company knew that the employee used to use his personal QQ mailbox, but it still sent the “Employees’ Handbook” to his corporate mailbox, so the company failed to notify the employee. In view of this, if a company uses electronic means to announce, such as email, corporate Wechat and etc., it is recommended to set a receipt function, and then the company could prove that employees have been notified. If a company uses DingDing, it is recommended to keep the evidence that other work notice are sent by the same means, and employees have replied via the same means, by which the company could prove that employees have been notified.

    Second, it is recommended to reserve the electronic data by appropriate technical means. In 2016, the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, and the Ministry of Public Security have jointed issued the “Regulations on the Extraction and Judgment of Electronic Data Collection”, in which the requirements on the collection of electronic data have been explained in details. As an employer, companies shall reserve the electronic data on the announcement of the internal rules, for example, to keep the relevant records; to use screen shots, keep the pictures of the announcement, and send for file via email; or use “Time Stamp” and some other technical means.