The US Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued guidance concerning a new exemption under the prohibited transaction provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) in connection with the provision of investment advice. PTE 2020-02, Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees (the Exemption), became effective on February 16, 2021. On April 13, 2021, the DOL issued additional guidance, in FAQ format, to further explain the Exemption.
Employment law continues to evolve, and it can be a challenge amid an ever-changing landscape of local employment laws for human resources executives and employment counsel at multinational businesses to maintain a consistent global corporate culture.
McDermott’s Global Employment Law Update brings you the key highlights from across Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin and North America. Developed in collaboration with peer firms operating in more than 50 countries, this resource guide contains summaries of the laws and significant court decisions that impacted employers and employees all over the world. It includes:
- COVID-19 legislative updates
- Remote work and telecommuting policies
- Data privacy protections
- Minimum wage and salary compensation updates
- Changes to labor protection laws
- Sexual harassment modifications
Andrew C. Liazos, partner at McDermott Will & Emery, recently moderated an American Bar Association panel on the new cybersecurity guidance for retirement plan sponsors issued by the Department of Labor (DOL). The panel slides included 10 takeaways for the new DOL guidance.
As a background, the DOL’s new guidance formalized its long-held view that retirement plan fiduciaries have an obligation to ensure proper mitigation of cybersecurity risks. More specifically, the DOL expects retirement plan fiduciaries to select and monitor the cybersecurity practices of their service providers.
The DOL guidance is in three parts.
- The first part provides plan fiduciaries with a framework for reviewing a vendor’s cybersecurity practices.
- The second part provides a robust list of cybersecurity “best practices” for record keepers and other vendors responsible for plan-related IT systems and data. For example, the DOL recommends that all retirement plan vendors with critical participant data conduct a reliable annual third-party audit of their security controls.
- The third part provides security tips for participants and beneficiaries who manage their retirement accounts online.
Last month, McDermott partner Jeffrey M. Holdvogt was a speaker at the ERIC March Financial Wellness Huddle on the topic of Recent Developments in Employer Student Loan Repayment Benefits. His presentation covered:
- Student loan repayment benefits
- Employer options for student loan benefits
- CARES Act Educational Assistance Program
- Converting unused PTO funds to student loan debt relief
- Retirement plan options
The US Department of Labor’s decision last month to table Trump-era regulations limiting socially conscious investments by retirement plans signals that the Biden administration is considering an embrace of so-called ESG funds, which attempt to advance environmental, social and corporate governance goals.
Tabling these regulations brings “the Department of Labor into alignment with the desire of not just plan fiduciaries, but more notably, the actual plan participants to use their retirement assets in a socially conscious manner,” McDermott partner Erin Turley said in an article for Law360.
New guidance streamlines the methods for calculating withdrawal liability for multiemployer union pension plans that have adopted benefit reductions, benefit suspensions, surcharges or contribution increases—a common occurrence with underfunded multiemployer pension plans.
On March 10, 2021, US Congress finalized and passed the American Rescue Plan of 2021 (ARPA), the latest COVID-19 relief package that largely tracks President Joe Biden’s initial $1.9 trillion proposal. The ARPA extends unemployment insurance benefits and provides direct $1,400 stimulus payments to qualifying Americans, but it also makes several important health policy-related changes. These include providing funding for vaccine distribution and testing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, making policy adjustments to the Medicaid program, facilitating health insurance coverage and providing more money for healthcare providers. The final bill also makes two narrowly focused technical Medicare payment changes.
This summary highlights notable health policy provisions of the final bill.
Companies enter into merger & acquisition (M&A) deals for a range of reasons, but how employees are treated once a deal closes depends largely on the buyer’s deal strategy. Often the buyer signs a deal under the promise that the acquired business’ employees will continue to receive rewards at deal close that are comparable to those they received before, at least for a specified period of time. But why include such comparability provisions in deal terms given that they appear to restrict the buyer? What do these provisions typically cover? And what are best practices?
Willis Tower Watson recently tapped law firms with leading M&A advisory teams, including McDermott’s Carole Spink, to dig into the answers.
The Department of Labor (DOL) made inflation adjustments to a wide range of penalties for Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) violations by employee benefit plans and plan sponsors. The new penalty amounts that apply in 2021 are included herein.
The Department of Labor provided interim guidance on the new required annual lifetime income disclosures to participants in defined contribution plans, including plans covered under section 401(k) or 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code, profit-sharing plans and employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). The Lifetime Income Disclosure Rule is currently scheduled to go into effect on September 18, 2021. Given this timeframe, sponsors of defined contribution plans should start planning for these new disclosure requirements now.