Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog

The View from Proskauer on Developments in the World of Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation & ERISA Litigation

Tag Archives: Department of Labor

You’ve Sent the COBRA Special Extended Election Period Notices – What’s Next?

Due to tight timelines and an initial sprint to issue the special extended COBRA election period notices by the May 31st deadline, plan administrators may not have focused on the other COBRA-related notice requirements under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). This blog post focuses on these other notices – for individuals who become entitled … Continue Reading

ARP COBRA Subsidy Special Election Opportunity: Who Gets a Second Bite at the Apple, and How Do They Take It?

The American Rescue Plan (“ARP”) offers a special 60-day election period for certain individuals who previously declined or discontinued COBRA coverage (“Assistance Eligible Individuals” or “AEIs,” as defined in ARP). These individuals may elect COBRA coverage prospectively, beginning April 1st, at no cost, as long as they are not eligible for Medicare or other group … Continue Reading

ERISA Disclosure Requirements for Service Providers Extended to Group Health Plans

The recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (“CAA”) requires new disclosures for brokers and other consultants providing services to certain group health plans.  Under the CAA, “covered service providers” must disclose their “direct” and “indirect” compensation above $1,000 received during the term of the contract or arrangement to a responsible plan fiduciary of a … Continue Reading

Biden Administration Requests Review of DOL’s Final “ESG” Rules for ERISA Fiduciaries – What Does that Mean for the DOL’s Final Proxy Voting Rules?

On October 30, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) issued a final rule on “ESG” investing (summarized here) which requires ERISA plan fiduciaries to base investment decisions on financial factors alone, prohibits fiduciaries from selecting investments based on non-pecuniary considerations, and which could restrict “do-good” or “ESG” investing (the “ESG Rule”).  However, the … Continue Reading

DOL Releases Guidance on Addressing the Missing Participant Problem

The problem of “missing” participants and beneficiaries (individuals for whom the plan administrator does not have adequate contact information) is an ongoing issue for retirement plan administrators.  It is also an area to which the DOL has dedicated significant attention in recent years, particularly in its enforcement actions, which has been a challenge for administrators. … Continue Reading

Terminating a 401(k) Plan? The DOL Blesses Use of the PBGC Missing Participant Program

The DOL recently issued Field Assistance Bulletin 2021-01, blessing the PBGC’s Missing Participant Program as an additional method of addressing a perennial issue in 401(k) terminations – the problem of missing participants and beneficiaries with remaining account balances. Background. After a defined contribution plan’s termination, DOL regulations provide a safe harbor allowing the distribution of … Continue Reading

DOL Finalizes New Prohibited Transaction Exemption for “Investment Advice”, With Statement That Fiduciary Standard May Apply to IRA Rollover Guidance

****UPDATE:  The Exemption described in this notice appears to be covered by the regulatory freeze described in this Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, issued by Chief of Staff Ronald A. Klain on January 20, 2021.  Accordingly, we expect the effective date of the Exemption to be postponed for 60 days (until March 22, … Continue Reading

DOL Issues Final “ESG” Rule Restricting ERISA Fiduciary Consideration of Non-Pecuniary Investment Factors

On October 30, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) issued a final rule on factors for selecting plan investments, which restricts “do-good” or “ESG” investing.  In response to public comments, the final rule rolls back some of the restrictions and burdens from its proposed rule issued in June (summarized here), but it reaffirms … Continue Reading

DOL Information Letter Outlines Fiduciary Considerations for Including Private Equity Allocations in Defined Contribution Plan Investments

On June 3, 2020, the Department of Labor (the “DOL”) published an Information Letter confirming that investment options under a defined contribution plan (e.g., a 401(k) or 403(b) plan) may include a limited allocation to private equity.  Notably, the Letter does not discuss direct investment in private equity funds (for example, by adding a PE … Continue Reading

EBSA FY 2019 MHPAEA Enforcement

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is charged with ensuring that plans comply with ERISA, including the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA).  EBSA recently released its MHPAEA report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019.  We provide below highlights from EBSA’s report and also note some comparisons to FY 2018. In FY 2019, EBSA … Continue Reading

ERISA Implications for Firing A Whistleblower

The Ninth Circuit unanimously concluded that a trustee and lawyer for certain multiemployer funds violated ERISA § 510 by unlawfully firing a whistleblower in the funds’ collections department, but, in a split decision, concluded that the retaliation did not amount to a breach of fiduciary duty.  The whistleblower was cooperating with a DOL criminal investigation of … Continue Reading

As DOL Fiduciary Rule is Officially Vacated, Focus Shifts to SEC

After nearly a decade in the making, the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule appears to be officially dead.  On June 21st, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued its mandate that finalized its earlier decision vacating the rule—discussed here.  Along with the regulation that expanded the definition of investment fiduciary, the mandate … Continue Reading

New DOL FAB Further Delays Enforcement of Fiduciary Rule, But Does Not Undo The Rule In Its Entirety

On May 7, 2018, the DOL issued a Field Assistance Bulletin (“FAB”) addressing the Department’s enforcement policy on the fiduciary rule that was recently vacated by the Fifth Circuit.  Although the DOL has elected not to continue defending the rule before the Fifth Circuit, the FAB leaves the rule’s status in a holding pattern. Rather … Continue Reading

Confusion Ensues After Appeal Over Fiduciary Rule in D.C. Circuit Dropped

On March 23, 2018, the National Association for Fixed Annuities (“NAFA”) and the Department of Labor filed a Joint Stipulation of Dismissal of litigation involving the Department’s fiduciary rule in the District of Columbia Circuit.  NAFA had appealed a district court decision that dismissed NAFA’s challenge to the fiduciary rule.  The decision to drop that … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Vacates DOL Fiduciary Rule

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, including the expanded definition of “investment advice fiduciary” and the associated exemptions. The decision nullifies the Department’s 2016 regulation—at least in the Fifth Circuit, which includes Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and arguably nationwide—but is not … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Upholds DOL’s Authority to Impose New Conditions for PTEs and Leaves Door Open for Changes to Fiduciary Rule

The Tenth Circuit recently affirmed the Department of Labor’s authority to impose new conditions for exemption from prohibited transaction rules with respect to the sale of annuity contracts. The case related to the Department’s decision, as part of the 2016 “fiduciary rule,” to make sales of fixed indexed annuities ineligible for Prohibited Transaction Exemption 84-24, … Continue Reading

Department of Labor Finalizes 90 Day Delay on New Disability Claims Procedures

On November 24, 2017, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) released regulations finalizing a 90-day delay on the application of new claims procedures for disability claims. The Obama-era regulations providing for the new claims procedures were set to become effective for disability claims filed on or after January 1, 2018. In the absence of additional regulatory … Continue Reading

Department of Labor Finalizes 18-Month Delay of Fiduciary Rule Exemptions

On November 27, 2017, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) finalized the delay of the applicability date for certain conditions for exemptions to the fiduciary rule until July 1, 2019. This delay was initially proposed in late August as described here. Although certain requirements have been delayed, the fiduciary rule’s broad definition of “fiduciary” and the … Continue Reading

Department of Labor Officially Proposes Delaying Fiduciary Rule’s Exemptions for 18 Months

On August 30, 2017, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) officially proposed delaying the applicability date of exemptions to its fiduciary rule until July 1, 2019. The proposal was expected after DOL stated in a court filing earlier this month that a delay proposal was under review by the Office of Management and Budget. This proposal … Continue Reading

Department of Labor Requests Additional 18-Month Delay of Certain Fiduciary Rule Requirements

On August 9, 2017, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) stated in a court filing that the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) is reviewing a proposal to extend the applicability date for certain requirements under DOL’s fiduciary rule until July 1, 2019. As discussed here and here the fiduciary rule’s “impartial conduct standards” have been … Continue Reading

Disability Claims Procedures Should be Updated for New Regulations

As open enrollment approaches for many benefit plans, employers and plans sponsors should check to make sure their claims procedures for disability claims are consistent with regulations that become effective for plan years beginning on and after January 1, 2018.  These regulations apply to ERISA-covered short-term and long-term disability plans, as well as retirement plans … Continue Reading

DOL Again Seeks Comments on New Fiduciary Rules and Exemptions

On June 29, 2017, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) requested another round of public comment on its fiduciary rule—this time in the form of a Request (“RFI”) for Information.  The RFI seeks input on (a) whether to extend the January 1, 2018, applicability date for parts of the rule that are not yet in effect, and … Continue Reading

Department of Labor’s New Fiduciary Rule Will Go Into Effect June 9th

The Department of Labor has announced that the new fiduciary conflict of interest rule and related exemptions will begin taking effect on June 9, 2017, ending speculation of further delay. At the same time, the Department announced a relaxed enforcement standard for the rest of 2017.  See our blog post on the delayed effective date … Continue Reading
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