Electronic Filing of Notices for Apprenticeship and Training Plans and Statements for Pension Plans for Certain Select Employees, 29 CFR Part 2520, 84 Fed. Reg. 27952 (June 17, 2019)
The DOL has issued final regulations requiring electronic filing of ERISA apprenticeship and training plan notices. As background, ERISA apprenticeship and training plans benefit from more limited reporting and disclosure obligations than other types of ERISA plans—they are exempt from ERISA’s regular reporting and disclosure requirements (such as filing Form 5500 and furnishing summary plan descriptions) if they file a notice containing specified information with the DOL, take steps to ensure that the information in the notice is disclosed to employees of the plan’s contributing employers who may be eligible to enroll in a course of study sponsored by the plan, and provide the notice to employees upon request. The notice must set forth the plan name, plan sponsor’s EIN, plan administrator’s name, and contact information for an office or person that can provide a description of the plan-sponsored course of study and related enrollment procedures.
Effective August 16, 2019, the notice must be filed electronically; paper filings will no longer be accepted. Instructions and a link to the online filing system are provided on the DOL’s Apprenticeship and Training Plan Notice webpage. The final regulations do not change the content requirements for the notice, just the filing procedures. The online filing system provides spaces to complete all required information, along with a space for additional optional information. The preamble to the regulations explains that once the form has been submitted, the filer will receive an electronic confirmation; confirmations have not been available through the existing paper-based system. The regulations also require electronic filing of statements that provide a similar ERISA reporting and disclosure exemption for top hat plans (unfunded or insured pension plans for a select group of management or highly compensated employees); the DOL’s Top Hat Plan Statement webpage facilitates filing these statements.
EBIA Comment: Many single-employer apprenticeship and training plans are exempt from ERISA as either unfunded scholarship programs or educational leaves of absence. For those that are ERISA plans (typically those funded through a trust, often pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement), electronic filing of the notice makes it even easier to fall within the reporting and disclosure exemption. For more information, see EBIA’s ERISA Compliance manual at Sections VI.D.1.d (“Apprenticeship or Other Training Benefits”) and XXII.C (“Other Important Form 5500 Exemptions”).
Contributing Editors: EBIA Staff.