What is an Electronic Signature?
Generally speaking, an electronic signature (or e-signature) is a technical process logically associated with a document which two (or more) individuals or organizations (the signatories) agree to rely on in order to express their intent to sign such document. Three components are therefore necessary: a document, a signatory and an e-signature tool. While the tool most commonly used for handwritten signatures is a simple pen, electronic signature tools are typically more complex.
From a regulatory standpoint, an electronic signature is a broad category that encompasses many types (or levels) of electronic signatures. Depending on the country it is used in, there are differences in purpose, legal acceptance, technical implementation and cultural acceptance of electronic signatures.
In particular, e-signature requirements tend to vary significantly between most “civil law” countries (including the European Union and many countries in South America and Asia), and most “common law” countries (such as the United States, Canada and Australia). Civil law countries typically support a “tiered” approach including higher levels of signature often called digital or qualified electronic signatures (typically required for specific types of contracts), as opposed to common law jurisdictions which are typically more technology-neutral.
In addition, some industries (such as healthcare or banking) and documents (such as marriage or adoption contracts) may require a higher level of e-signature.
What are the laws and regulations in the Philippines?
Electronic signatures are permitted in the Philippines per the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000. Employment related records that have been signed electronically have the same value as handwritten signatures if the signature follows a procedure that is not alterable by the related parties. Procedures should:
- include a way to identify the individual(s) who will be signing the document and to indicate their access to the document;
- be reliable and appropriate for the purpose of the document;
- only require individuals to electronically sign a document when relevant; and,
- allow the other individual to verify the electronic signature and make the decision whether to proceed with signing.
Is an electronic signature valid in the Philippines?
Yes. Electronic and physical signatures have the same legal value in the Philippines.
Any disputes as to the validity of signatures (electronic or physical) will come down to a question of proof. Under the Rules on Electronic Evidence, an authenticated digital signature is admissible in evidence as the functional equivalent of a handwritten signature (Section 1, Rule 6 of the Rules on Electronic Evidence). Electronic signatures may be authenticated in the following manners:
- by evidence that a method or process was utilized to establish a digital signature and verify the same;
- by other means provided by law; or
- by other means satisfactory to the judge as establishing the genuineness of the electronic signature (Section 2, Rule 6 of the Rules on Electronic Evidence).
HR Best Practices: Electronic signatures are generally permitted in the Philippines. When using electronic signatures for employment records, ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place and procedures include measures to authenticate the identity of the individual who signs the record
Led by PeopleDoc’s Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, the HR Compliance Assist team relies on a network of internal and external compliance experts and lawyers, including the global law firm Morgan Lewis, to provide clients with best practices and recommendations on topics such as HR document retention, employee data privacy, and HR electronic records. HR Compliance Assist also provides local compliance monitoring and alert services in select countries where PeopleDoc’s customers have employees. HR Compliance Assist is a service exclusively available to PeopleDoc customers.