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Consolidated Appropriations Act: Health and Welfare Benefits Provisions

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (the Act) was signed into law by the president on December 27, 2020, and includes significant health and welfare benefits provisions that affect group health plans and health insurance issuers. The Act is the most comprehensive single piece of legislation to impact group health plans since the Affordable Care Act. Access the article.

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Final Rule for Selecting Retirement Plan Investments Leaves “ESG” Behind

In recent guidance, the Department of Labor clarified the retirement plan standards for environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investing without mentioning the term ESG. The new guidance provides that, when selecting and monitoring plan investments, an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) fiduciary must never sacrifice investment returns, take on additional investment risk or pay higher fees to promote non-pecuniary benefits or goals. Teal Trujillo, an incoming associate in our Chicago office, also contributed to this On the Subject. Access the article.

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DOL Creates Path for 401(k) Plans to Offer Private Equity Investment Options

In June, the US Department of Labor issued an information letter indicating that it will allow defined contribution retirement plans (such as 401(k) plans) to indirectly invest in private equity funds. While information letters are not binding, this new guidance creates a significant opportunity for plan sponsors to consider investment options that include private equity funds. However, it will be important for both plan sponsors and funds to carefully evaluate potential investments for compliance with fiduciary requirements. Access the article.

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DOL Proposed Regulations on Proxy Voting

The Department of Labor (DOL) issued a proposed rule with 30-day comment period to address the application of fiduciaries' duties with respect to proxy voting and exercises of other shareholder rights. The proposal requires fiduciaries to vote any proxy where the matter being voted upon would have an economic impact on the plan and prohibits fiduciaries from voting any proxy that does not have an economic impact on the plan. In our recent webinar, we reviewed the proposal and explained what the changes mean for plan sponsors. View the slide deck here.

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Updated PBGC Guidance for Defined Benefit Plans

Earlier this year, the US Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) issued a final rule, modifying PBGC regulations that apply to defined benefit pension plans. Among those changes were revisions to: (i) the reportable event notification requirements; (ii) annual financial and actuarial information (Form 4010) reporting; (iii) single-employer plan termination rules; and (iv) the premium rate calculation rules. The rule was generally effective on March 5, 2020, but some provisions have different applicability dates. Access the article.

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Multiemployer Pension Plans: Addressing the Issue of Underfunding

A significant issue facing many business owners is the impact of underfunded multiemployer pension plans. This is most common, but not exclusive to, unionized businesses. McDermott Partner and Global Head of the Firm’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice Group Todd Solomon joins Domenic Rinaldi, owner and managing partner of Sun Acquisitions, for a recent episode of the M&A Unplugged Podcast to talk about multiemployer pension plans and discuss proactive steps owners can take to get ahead of future issues regarding pension participants. Access the podcast.

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How Advisers Serving MEPs and PEPs Can Be Conflicted

The most obvious potential conflict of interest for advisers setting up or serving pooled employer plans is if their practice is affiliated with the investments being selected—but there are other potential pitfalls to acknowledge. In a recent article, Erin Turley, a partner with McDermott Will & Emery, said a potential conflict of interest for advisers to PEPs would be if they were acting as either a 3(21) or 3(38) fiduciary to help select investments and were paid from plan assets. Access the article.

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The Biggest Benefits Rulings of 2020: Midyear Report

The US Supreme Court took up several Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) cases this term, handing down both a major loss and a substantial win to employees looking to sue their employers over retirement plan mismanagement. In a recent Law360 article, McDermott Partner Chris Nemeth discusses these decisions. "It's going to be really interesting to see how this plays out," said Nemeth. Access the article.

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The New Electronic Disclosure Rule is Here

Plan Sponsor Council of America hosted a webinar to discuss the new electronic disclosure rule for retirement plans from the US Department of Labor (DOL), which took effect July 26, 2020. The rule allows employers to deliver disclosures to plan participants primarily electronically, which the DOL says will reduce printing, mailing, and related plan costs by an estimated $3.2 billion over the next decade. Speakers included McDermott's Andrew Liazos, and the topics discussed included: New Safe Harbors, Effective Date and Scope of Rules Notice and Access Safe Harbor E-Disclosure Rule Q & A Access the presentation slides.

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