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Electronic Options To Replace Paper For Distributing Retirement Plan Information

By May 22, 2020No Comments

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has two new options for using electronic means to replace paper for distribution of certain retirement plan information. An “electronic address” includes an “email address or smart phone number”.
The options, as summarized by the DOL, are:
Website Posting. Plan administrators may post covered documents on a website if appropriate notification of internet availability is furnished to the electronic addresses of covered individuals.
Email Delivery. Alternatively, plan administrators may send covered documents directly to the electronic addresses of covered individuals, with the covered documents either in the body of the email or as an attachment to the email.”
The DOL’s requirements include:
Right to Paper. Covered individuals can request paper copies of specific documents, or globally opt out of electronic delivery entirely, at any time, free of charge.
Initial Notification. Covered individuals must be furnished an initial notification, on paper, that the way they currently receive retirement plan disclosures (e.g., paper delivery in the US mail) is changing. The notice must inform them of the new electronic delivery method, the electronic address that will be used, and the right to opt out if they prefer paper disclosures, among other things. The notice must be given to them before the plan may use the new safe harbor.
Notifications of Internet Availability. Covered individuals generally must be furnished a notice of internet availability (NOIA) each time a new covered document is made available for review on the internet website.
To avoid “notice overload,” the final rule permits an annual NOIA to include information about multiple covered documents, instead of multiple NOIAs throughout the year.
The NOIA must briefly describe or identify the covered document that is being posted online, include an address or hyperlink to the website, and inform the covered individual of the right to request paper copies or to opt out of electronic delivery altogether.
The NOIA must be concise, understandable, and contain only specified information.
Website Retention. Covered documents must remain on an internet website until superseded by a subsequent version, but in no event for less than one year.
System Check for Invalid Electronic Addresses. Plan administrators must ensure that the electronic delivery system is designed to alert them if a participant’s electronic address is invalid or inoperable. In that case, the administrator must attempt to promptly cure the problem, or treat the participant as opting out of electronic delivery.
System Check at Termination of Employment. When someone leaves their job, the plan administrator must take steps to ensure the continued accuracy and operability of the person’s employer-provided electronic address.”
ACSI (www.acsi-ny.com or mbrand@acsi-ny.com) is available to help clients with the transition from paper to electronic delivery of retirement plan information.