The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced it will allow plan sponsors and others responsible for participant disclosures to reset their annual disclosure deadlines on a one-time basis.
For 2012, the DOL required plan fiduciaries to provide new participant disclosures for participant-directed individual account plans no later than August 30, 2012. Subsequent annual disclosures are required at least once in each 12-month period. Although a little late, on July 22, 2013, the Employee Benefits Security Administration of the DOL published guidance that allows plan sponsors and others to reset their annual disclosure deadlines on a one-time basis, in effect delaying the deadline for 2013 disclosures for those who choose to do so.
The DOL now says responsible plan fiduciaries will be treated as complying with the annual participant disclosures requirement for 2013 if the disclosures occur no later than 18 months (instead of 12 months) after the 2012 disclosure. So if, for example, the 2012 disclosures were provided on August 25, 2012, and the 2013 disclosures would have been due no later than August 25, 2013, the DOL will now take no enforcement action based on timeliness if the 2013 disclosures are provided by February 25, 2014.
Recognizing that at this late date many plan administrators already may have furnished their 2013 disclosures or may be committed to furnishing disclosures no later than August 30, 2013, the DOL also offers those plans a one-time opportunity to re-set the annual deadline by furnishing their 2014 annual disclosures no later than 18 months after furnishing the 2013 annual disclosures.
The guidance does not relieve plan administrators from other disclosure obligations under the participant disclosure regulations. For example, changes to investment direction procedures, designated investment alternatives or investment-related information on the applicable website must be updated as required under the change procedures. The DOL also is considering modification of the annual participant disclosures requirement to allow a 30-day or 45-day window for subsequent annual disclosures rather than having the deadline on a specific date, but the change has not yet been approved. Comments have been requested.
If you are interested in changing the timing of your 2013 or 2014 annual participant disclosures, please contact George L. Whitfield (firstname.lastname@example.org
or 616.752.2102) or any other member of the Warner Norcross & Judd Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice Group.