The Department of Labor’s Electronic Disclosure Rule has simplified the delivery of retirement plan information to participants. This rule allows retirement plan administrators to satisfy their information disclosure requirements under ERISA (The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) by making required notices and disclosures available to employees electronically under a “notice-and-access” method.

The new DOL regulations established a safe harbor that permits sponsors of retirement plans to use electronic methods as the default means of distributing most notices and disclosures required under Title I of ERISA, provided certain requirements are met. Some examples of ERISA Title I retirement plan disclosures include:

  • Annual pension benefit statements
  • Annual fee disclosure notices
  • Automatic enrollment notices
  • Blackout notices
  • Qualified default investment notices
  • Safe harbor notices
  • Summary annual reports
  • Summary plan descriptions

The rule allows plans to deliver these notices electronically in two ways:

Via an Internet Website. The E-Delivery Rule allows plans to provide important notices and disclosures electronically by making the documents available on an internet website. When using this method, the plan must distribute a NOIA (notice of internet availability) to the email address, smartphone number or mailing address provided by the participant or assigned to the participant by the employer. The NOIA informs a participant that a retirement plan document has been made available online. The notice will lead a participant directly to the document or to a login page that enables access to the document when a participant logs in.

Via E-Mail. Alternatively, the E-Delivery Rule allows plans to email important notices and disclosures directly to participants. When using this method, the plan will send an email to the participant’s email address as provided by the participant or the employer, and include the document either in the body of the email or as an attachment.

Electronic delivery is expected to be a win-win for both plan sponsors and plan participants.

Paper delivery of retirement plan documents via traditional postal mailing does not coincide with the way most people take in information in our technology-driven world and is a costly endeavor. Electronic delivery can improve the usefulness of participant notices and disclosures, while lowering the costs associated with retirement plan administration.

A few additional benefits that are anticipated with the new e-delivery method include providing a better guarantee of receipt of information by the participant, allowing participants to respond quickly to plan information received electronically, and ensuring plan information remains up-to-date and is accessible to participants in “real time.”

Greenleaf Trust publishes all required notices to our retirement plan website,  and due to the new regulations will no longer send required notices via standard mail. Retirement plan participants will receive a NOIA and always have the right to request a free paper copy from us at Greenleaf Trust or any retirement plan provider.