New E-Disclosure Rules on the Horizon

On October 22, 2019, the Department of Labor issued proposed rules intended to relax the current (and, in many respects, outdated) electronic disclosure rules. The proposed rules offer additional e-disclosure options and have the potential to save ERISA plans significant time and money. Notably, the proposed rule includes a new, voluntary safe harbor which would allow employers to make retirement plan disclosures via website, subject to certain requirements such as participant notifications and specific website standards. The rule would permit default electronic delivery to valid email addresses, absent an affirmative opt-out. And, for those who still prefer paper access, they will have the right to request paper notices. While the proposed rules do not limit a plan administrator’s use of the existing safe harbor for electronic delivery (or distribution via hand delivery or mail), creating alternate avenues for electronic disclosures is a welcomed change. At this time, the proposed safe harbor does not apply to welfare benefit plans, but we will continue to monitor these new rules for any changes in scope or content.

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