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Sharon Lippett Quoted in “DOL’s Association Retirement Regs Clear Final Hurdle”

Law360

Sharon L. Lippett, Member of the Firm in the Employee Benefits practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Law360, in “DOL’s Association Retirement Regs Clear Final Hurdle,” by Kevin Stawicki. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

New U.S. Department of Labor regulations meant to make it easier for small businesses to jointly offer retirement plans are on the verge of being finalized now that the Office of Management and Budget has wrapped up its review of the DOL’s association retirement plan rule. 

The rule, proposed by the Labor department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration in 2018, would relax requirements on companies and self-employed people seeking to join or form an employer association, which can operate a single retirement plan that covers all member companies’ workers. Passing through the White House agency, which the rule did on Monday, is the last hurdle a rule needs to clear before the final rule is published, which a DOL spokesperson told Law360 could happen in the next few days.

Within the past year, the EBSA has come out in favor of the rule after President Trump’s 2018 executive order calling for a rule to make it easier for companies to join multiple employer plans by allowing them to be paid into by more than one company. The rule was listed as a regulatory priority, and the DOL released a draft of it in the Federal Register in late 2018, touting the rule’s purported goal of making it easier for small businesses to offer workers retirement savings options. …

Some expressed concern that the rule, which would expand the definition of “employer” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, would meet the same fate as the association health plan rule that was invalidated by a D.C. federal judge, who determined in March that a provision allowing small businesses and the self-employed to buy health insurance on the large-group market misinterpreted ERISA’s “employer” definition.

“It is not clear that the definition of employer [would] survive [another] legal challenge,” Sharon L. Lippett, a member of Epstein Becker Green’s benefits and executive compensation practice, said in May. “The D.C. district court judge made some strong arguments as to why the definition does not work under Section 3(5) of ERISA.”