Benefits and executive compensation partner Heather Abrigo authored an article for 401(k) Advisor titled “The DOL Gift during COVID-19: Electronic Delivery Alternative.” The article discusses the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new safe harbor regulation regarding electronic communications and what the new regulation means for plan sponsors and service providers.
In her article, Abrigo explained how COVID-19 has created challenges for plan sponsors and service providers who assist plan sponsors to deliver participant communications and the need for alternative ways to send out plan-related required disclosures.
Abrigo outlined two methods for sending disclosures electronically that the DOL’s new safe harbor regulation allow. The first is a “notice-and-access” model, which allows electronic delivery to be made by posting documents online, and the second is an “email-delivery” model, which allows electronic delivery of documents directly via email, either in the body of the email message or as an attachment.
Abrigo noted that the regulation is significant because previously the DOL safe harbor regulations required work-related computer access. Now service providers can assist plan sponsors even more and broaden the availability of the electronic transmittal beyond those that have work-related computer access.
Abrigo added that the DOL safe harbor regulation also contemplates the use of utilizing electronic transmittal of disclosures for terminated vested participants, which can help plan sponsors alleviate the issue of missing terminated participants.