Our fall briefing discussed legislative and regulatory changes that impact health and welfare benefits-related issues for employers. Topics included retirement plan regulatory pronouncements, health and welfare compliance efforts, and retirement plan compliance efforts.
Key takeaways from our conversation:
- New ESG regulations chart a path to add ESG investment options to a 401(k) plan or 403(b) plan.
- Target-date funds are in the spotlight due to continuing litigation claims and new product innovations for customized options and retirement income strategies.
- The IRS has expanded its determination letter program to 403(b) plans. Tax-exempt sponsors of individually designed 403(b) plans should consider taking advantage of the program as a way to obtain assurance from the IRS that their plan document satisfies the Code’s requirements.
- There’s good news in store for retirement plan sponsors with late contribution issues. The DOL has issued a proposal that, if finalized, will make it easier for plan sponsors to self-correct certain late deferrals and late loan repayments by using the DOL calculator to determine lost earnings and filing a fairly simple notice with the DOL.
- In light of the current landscape for excessive fee litigation, it is recommended that plan sponsors revisit and shore up their fiduciary processes, review their liability coverage to understand their risk exposure, and consider the pros and cons of engaging an investment manager over an investment advisor.
- While plans are not legally precluded from offering cryptocurrency as an investment option, we strongly discourage them from doing so in view of the difficulty of reconciling such an option with their fiduciary duty of prudence and the risk of increased scrutiny by the Department of Labor.
- Sharing participant data with plan vendors for non-plan purposes is a hot-button issue. Sponsors would be advised to expressly prohibit this practice entirely under their service arrangements.
- Mental health parity remains an enforcement hot button for the DOL. Self-insured employers should take action to ensure NQTL comparative analyses are complete.
- Given the increasing risk of fiduciary liability under health and welfare plans, plan sponsors should consider forming health and welfare fiduciary governance committees to monitor service provider fees and performance.