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Electronic signatures for HR

Before the Covid-19 health crisis, the use of electronic signatures in the HR field was fairly occasional. With the various lockdowns, and following the various government measures to combat the spread of Covid-19, the use of electronic signatures has accelerated, particularly in HR departments. Remote recruitment and onboarding in particular have rekindled interest. What are the underlying trends? Will electronic signatures be replacing handwritten signatures in HR processes?

Introducing the electronic signature in HR

Whether you're an employee, an employer or just a private individual, you can't have missed out on the electronic signature. But are you aware of all the subtleties and functionalities?
In the first part of our article, we shed some light on the electronic signature. For whom? When? How? Why? ... Electronic signatures will hold no more secrets for you.

What is an electronic signature? Definition!

Not to be confused with a digital signature, which is the insertion of a simple image or drawing on a document, an electronic signature is a sequence of digital characters that guarantees the reliability and legal value of the document concerned.
An electronic signature is therefore equivalent to a handwritten signature, which guarantees:

  • The integrity of the document, certifying that it has not been modified between signature and consultation.
  • The identity of the signatory of the document, via a set of authentication methods such as sending a unique authentication code by SMS or email.

All of these elements are grouped together in a file called the proof file, which is attached to the document that has just been signed, and which is used, if necessary, to provide proof of the identity of the signatory or signatories in the event of a dispute in court.

The electronic signature must therefore meet five very distinct conditions. These are:

  • Authenticity: the signature must be produced in such a way as to provide definite proof of the identity of the signatory.
  • Forgery-proof: the means used to establish the identity of the signatory must guarantee that he or she cannot impersonate another person.
  • Unalterability: the electronic signature(s) must seal the document, i.e. it cannot be altered once it has been signed.
  • Non-reusability: it must not be possible to copy the signature and it must not be possible to move it to another part of the document.
  • Irrevocability: the signature must bind the clear agreement of the parties and must not be open to dispute.

The electronic signature, for what uses?

There are several levels of use for electronic signatures, as defined by the eIDAS (European standard for electronic signatures), but not all of them will have the same legal value, and therefore the same scope of application. A distinction can be made between:

The standard electronic signature or digital signature: This is a handwritten electronic signature, i.e. manually affixed to a digital device reproducing the drawing identically or scanned. This signature does not guarantee the integrity of the data or even the formal identity of the signatory. Thus, for the simple delivery of a mail or parcel, a digital signature will be sufficient, as only proof of delivery is required.

The advanced electronic signature is most commonly used in the professional field, because it allows the signature to be secured by sending and using a private key accessible only to the recipient. This signature is now commonly used for business documents, such as HR documents (employment contract, amendment, etc.). It is secured by sending a unique authentication code by SMS or email.

Finally, for all documents where authentication of the signatory is essential, such as signing a notarial deed or responding to a public call for tenders, it is preferable to use a qualified electronic signature. In the latter case, the identity of the signatory will have been established beforehand (via a visual and physical, or virtual, check of the signatory's identity, which must be carried out by a specific electronic certification authority) in addition to sending a secure private key to obtain the electronic signature certificate. This type of signature is not common in everyday professional life.

Electronic signatures in companies: what is their legal value?

An electronic signature must be validated by a certification authority, i.e. a qualified trust service provider that meets the requirements set by the eIDAS (European certification). For example, our company has chosen to work with Connective, a partner that guarantees compliance with European and international regulations.

What are the benefits of electronic signatures for HR and businesses?

Why choose electronic signatures in an HR service?

In addition to the fact that electronic signature ensures that you can continue to carry out normal administrative activity during a lockdown and remote working, there are many advantages to using electronic signature in HR departments. These include:

  • Real-time monitoring of the progress of signatures: notification of reception, of signature, automatic sending after signature, etc.
  • Simplification of procedures: reminder to sign (i.e. the possibility of revoking a document sent if an error is found after it has been sent), personal reminders for late signatories, time-saving for signatories, ...
  • Securing digitised documents.
  • Saving time and money for the HR service: HR staff save time by not having to print, mail and stamp HR documents that have to be sent in hard copy.

Why choose electronic signatures in an HR service?

Why opt for an electronic HR signature integrated into HRIS software?

Aside from its many advantages, the electronic signature can have its drawbacks, which mainly relate to the tedious handling of digital documents. And this is true at every stage in the management of an HR document:

  • HR departments have to generate their HR documents, such as an employment contract amendment, using office software such as Word, before customising it with the employee's name, converting it to PDF format and importing it into an electronic signature management solution.
  • Next, the HR manager must enter or update the employee's contact information in the signature management software, so that the document can be sent to the signatory via email or SMS.
  • Once the document has been signed, the HR manager has to extract the signed document and the accompanying proof documents from the electronic signature solution, and re-import them into their DMS solution, their HRIS management software or the company's internal servers for archiving. All this while renaming the documents and making sure the versions are correct.

This is a shame, because some of the time saved in sending documents for signature is lost in document handling.

In response to this situation, Kelio's experts decided to integrate electronic signature management within the HRIS software itself. A solution never before seen on the market!

In addition to the traditional advantages of electronic signatures, signing documents using HRIS software such as Kelio brings significant benefits:

  • More time saved for HR services: automate the customisation of documents to be signed thanks to the HR data provided by Kelio. Monitoring of the progress of signatures on a visual dashboard. Instantly archive returned signed documents in the employee's file in Kelio without any intervention from the HR administrator.
  • Speeding up HR processes: send several standardised documents for signature to simplify the onboarding of a new employee, for example.
  • Certification of the identity of signatories: with an integrated electronic signature solution such as Kelio Digitalisation, select the signatory or signatories and the Kelio HRIS will check their contact information and notify you if any data is missing, in order to ensure that the documents are sent efficiently.
  • Precise monitoring of signatures utilised: only signatures actually carried out are invoiced.

A wide range of internal and HR documents can be signed: employment contracts and amendments, certificates, end-of-period reports, internal regulations, internal charters, information sheets, etc. Digitising the signing of these numerous documents within an organisation guarantees significant time and cost savings!

We can provide you with the electronic signature, fully integrated into the Kelio HRIS, to simplify and speed up your HR administrative processes. Discover all the benefits of this unique tool below!


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