As expected, the Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a final rule for a new, additional safe harbor for employee benefit plan administrators to use electronic media, as a default, to furnish information to participants and beneficiaries of plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
The rule allows plan administrators who satisfy specified conditions to provide participants and beneficiaries with a notice that certain disclosures will be made available on a website, or to furnish disclosures via email. Individuals who prefer to receive disclosures on paper can request paper copies of disclosures. They can also opt out of electronic delivery entirely. The DOL expects the rule to enhance the effectiveness of ERISA disclosures. Additionally, the DOL expects that it will significantly reduce the costs and burden associated with furnishing many of the recurring and most costly disclosures. In addition to benefiting workers, the DOL expects that the rule will immediately assist employers and the retirement plan industry as they face a number of economic challenges due to the COVID-19 emergency, including logistical and other impediments to compliance with ERISA’s disclosure requirements.
Plan sponsors should read the final rule and consult their advisors or ERISA counsel with any specific implementation questions.