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May 27, 2020

DOL finalizes rule to allow all plan administrators to provide required plan information exclusively online.

  • The Final Rule offers a safe harbor for administrators to satisfy ERISA's distribution standards by making required disclosures available online and providing notice of their availability via email and/or smartphone addresses. The safe harbor encompasses any documents required under Title I and any individual entitled to the document. In general, the safe harbor allows administrators to satisfy ERISA's distribution standards by making each document available online and providing electronic notice of its availability, as long as the recipient either :provides an electronic address (such as an email or smartphone number); or is an employee assigned an electronic address by the employer for the purpose of electronic distribution.
  • The DOL's Final Rule would greatly expand the safe harbor for providing required retirement plan information electronically. The safe harbor is currently available for disclosures to only two types of individuals: participants who are able to access electronic documents anywhere they are expected to perform their job duties, and for whom access to an electronic information system is an integral part of those duties; and participants, beneficiaries, and others who affirmatively consent to electronic distribution after adequate notice. The proposal, if finalized means it is likely that more plan participants will not actually get their notices and disclosures.
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