DOL Finally Relaxes Its Electronic Delivery Rule—But Only for Retirement Plans

Sunday, May 24, 2020

On May 21, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced publication of its long-awaited guidance on electronic participant  disclosures. The good news is that the DOL has taken a step in the right direction in easing some of the difficulties that were present in the prior electronic communications safe harbor. The bad news is that the new guidance applies only to retirement plans. This leaves health and welfare plans without an updated compliance safe harbor.

The DOL requires certain participant disclosures—such as summary plan descriptions, summaries of material modifications, and summary annual reports—to be provided to participants in a manner that is “reasonably calculated to ensure actual receipt.” In the early days of electronic communications, plan administrators were reluctant to rely on electronic distribution methods without the DOL’s approval.

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