As mitigation measures related to COVID-19 ease, it will be interesting to see which practices and regulatory changes taken in response to the pandemic remain in place long-term. One might be relief from a sometimes-inconvenient requirement related to the administration of 401(k) plans.
Many employee benefit plan sponsors have faced logistical challenges during the pandemic, such as office closures and remote work environments, which have made it difficult to remit participant 401(k) contribution deposits on time. In response to these challenges, the Department of Labor (DOL)'s Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) has issued Disaster Relief Notice (2020-01), which provides flexibility and relief to sponsors struggling with remittance delays due to the pandemic.
Many employers have been forced to implement some form of workforce reduction in order to continue operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. While furloughs and layoffs have a significant and immediate impact on a company’s operations, plan sponsors also need to understand the longer-term effects that workforce reductions may have on participants’ benefits and retirement accounts.
Part of offering a defined contribution plan, whether a 401(k) or a 403(b) plan, is making sure that the money participants contribute from their paycheck is deposited in their retirement account in a timely manner. While this might seem like a relatively minor and simple task in the scope of a plan sponsor’s fiduciary duties, the Department of Labor (DOL) views non-compliance with remittance rules as a major issue, and missing deadlines for deposits—even by a couple of days—can carry significant penalties.
Employee benefit plans have their own set of complex laws and regulations. But did you know that even small plans can be subject to audits?
Generally, if you have 100 eligible participants in your plan at the start of the year, your plan will require an audit. Note that this number includes all participants who are eligible—not just those who are enrolled.