Joan Disler Quoted in Article, “Labor Dept. Clears Path for Electronic ERISA Compliance”

Compliance Week

Joan Disler, Member of the Firm and Chair of the National Employee Benefits Steering Committee, was quoted in an article titled "Labor Dept. Clears Path for Electronic ERISA Compliance."

Following is an excerpt:

The Labor Department is offering a small fix for retirement plan administrators that could relieve a looming paperwork burden, giving companies more discretion to send plan materials to employees electronically.

The department issued a notice earlier this month updating the process companies must use to send retirement plan materials electronically. ... 

The transition rule is a good way for the Labor Department to test the water on the change in electronic distribution of benefits plan information, agrees Joan Disler. ... "The existing safe harbor provision for that method of delivery is dated back to 1997. The interim rule tells us that the department is looking to update the rule," she says.

Although the rule is not a complete replication of what employers sought, she says the compromise rule is still a good step. "Employers are facing burdensome responsibilities in ensuring the information gets to employees. With the new rule, it will at least reduce some of those [paper distribution] burdens." ...

What the final rules will look like could depend on how well employers use the many distribution methods to keep employees informed of changes to retirement plans, Disler says. The Labor Department's main concern, she says, is the feasibility of this delivery method to all employees and how easily it will be for employees to access this information. Many workers don't have on-the-job access to e-mail. "The agency has to make sure that all employees, including factory workers, will have access to this information," she says.