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How to Apply the IRS’s COBRA Premium Subsidy Guidance

On May 18, 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued much-anticipated Notice 2021-31 (the Notice) regarding the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) premium subsidy provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). Under ARPA, a 100% COBRA premium subsidy and additional COBRA enrollment rights are available to certain assistance eligible individuals (AEIs) during the period beginning on April 1, 2021, and ending on September 30, 2021.

The US Department of Labor (DOL) has previously issued model notices and a set of FAQs regarding the COBRA premium subsidy. The IRS has now issued additional FAQs in the Notice that apply to employers and plan sponsors­.

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SDNY Vacates Portion of DOL Final Rule on Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On August 3, 2020, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York struck down four parts of the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) Final Rule implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). A copy of the court’s ruling is available here. The FFCRA provides COVID-19-related sick leave and family leave to employees of businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

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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.

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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.




COVID-19: FAQs on Employees Experiencing Symptoms and Employee Absences

With rapid developments in local, state and federal guidance and law, the appropriate approach for each employer in relation to COVID-19 will vary depending on the nature of their work, the industries served and their location and size, among other considerations. This article outlines what employers need to know about employees experiencing symptoms and employee absences.

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COVID-19 Ate My Homework – Recent Extensions and Relief for Retirement Plans

In recognition of the difficulties faced by retirement plan sponsors, participants and beneficiaries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new guidance extends the deadlines for notices and disclosures required by Title I of ERISA and extends deadlines for retirement plan participants and beneficiaries to submit benefit claims and benefit appeals. The new guidance also provides some welcome fiduciary relief for electronic disclosures, incomplete plan loan or distribution documentation, as well as delayed participant contributions and loan repayments.

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DOL Relaxes Deadlines for ERISA-Governed Group Health Plans

The US Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service and US Department of the Treasury, issued guidance and deadline extensions applicable to ERISA-governed group health and welfare plans. The guidance provides relief for plan sponsors, plan administrators and plan participants that may be struggling to comply with applicable deadlines and requirements in the midst of the chaos related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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ERISA Health Plan Fiduciaries Defeat DOL’s Excessive Fee Claims

In one of the first ERISA cases to address claims against fiduciaries for excessive health plan fees, the court entered judgment in favor of the defendants on all counts. The decision addresses health plan fiduciary standards for reviewing plan fees and expenses.

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Socially Responsible Investing – No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Socially responsible investing often sounds like an intriguing idea, but investing plan assets in a socially responsible manner is a notoriously tricky proposition. Earlier this year, the US Department of Labor issued additional guidance clarifying existing DOL guidance applicable to socially responsible investment of plan assets. However, the clarifications included in FAB 2018-01 may further limit the scenarios in which socially responsible investing could be considered prudent under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA).

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