Cumbersome opt-in only rules surrounding electronic delivery of required annual participant notices have been around since 2002. On May 27th, 2020 the Federal Register published enhanced rules approved by the EBSA\DOL. While not perfect, they are a small step towards more efficient plan operations.
Traditionally, paper notices have been a straight-forward reliable method of delivery. In the post COVID-19 era, a push for methods encouraging social distance and economic benefits by employing an electronic methods of delivery has been approved.
Plan Sponsors can now rely on the new voluntary Safe Harbor described in the link below for e-disclosures until the regulation goes into effect on 7/27/2020. Internal discussions with your Company along with external discussions with your Service providers on how e-delivery can be rolled-out will be key to having a successful program. Unfortunately you still must first send out an initial notification letting participants know the following:
1) What disclosures they will receive electronically.
2) How they will be delivered and where to expect them. (i.e. via e-mail) and describe how it differs from the current method.
3) That participants have a right to opt out for paper copies, but by default, once provided a notice, they should expect disclosures electronically.
4) If the new item (a disclosure such as an SPD, SAR, Investment fee disclosure is posted to a website instead of e-mailed), that you must ensure a Notification of internet availability(NOIA) is provided each time a new document is posted to a website, but no less that annually if the NOIA is consolidated.
As you can see there are still hoops to jump through on administering e-disclosures. There are still many questions that remain and further DOL\EBSA guidance is needed before Plan Sponsors abandon traditionally reliable methods. QPC provides this information as a service for educational purposes only. It should not be construed or relied on as legal advice. Readers should not act upon this information without first seeking legal counsel.