EBSA Issues New Guidance on Electronic Filings for Top Hat Plans

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) under the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently finalized regulations to revise the filing procedures for a variety of notices and plan statements. These revisions mainly focus on electronic submission of documents such as apprenticeship and training plan notices and “top hat” plan statements.

A “top hat” plan is a nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plan set up to provide benefits to a select group of employees of a business, generally managers and other highly compensated employees. Currently, these plans are not required to meet Title I reporting requirements. Instead, the plan administrator files a notice with EBSA and takes steps to ensure the information contained in the notice is disclosed to those contributing to the plan, as well as those who are eligible to enroll. The notice includes a copy of plan documents, employer identifying information, a declaration regarding the “top hat” plan, and details about the number of such plans the employer sponsors. This alternative method of reporting and disclosure previously had to be satisfied either by a mailing or by personal delivery of the documents.

Moving Towards Electronic Filings

With the ease, relative security, and prevalence of using the Internet for business filings, it’s no surprise that the EBSA amended their regulations to allow for filing of notice documents for “top hat” plans as well as others. These regulations were first proposed in 2014 and have now been adopted without change. These rules required electronic submission of notices and statements for both apprenticeship and training plans as well as “top hat” plans.

EBSA maintains a web-based filing system that is, as of August 16, 2019, the exclusive method for filing these notices and statements. After mid-August, EBSA will not accept filings delivered via mail or that arrive via personal delivery. This portal is also designed to help plan administrators make notices for apprenticeship and training plans available to plan participants, as those filings will be public on the EBSA website.

This new rule requires some procedural changes for Hall Benefits Law clients who operate either a “top hat” plan or an apprenticeship or training program. Our attorneys are familiar with the initial rule and have already helped clients with relevant benefits programs transition to electronic filing so they’re using the new system well ahead of the August deadline. Knowing what’s coming is just part of our work at Hall Benefits Law. Our team works to help plan administrators choose and implement the right plans for each business, manage the plan details and processes, and handle problems or complicated scenarios when they arise. Learn more about our team and what we do by calling 678-439-6236 or visiting the Hall Benefits Law website.

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Hall Benefits Law, LLC

HBL offers employers comprehensive legal guidance on benefits in mergers and acquisitions, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), executive compensation, health and welfare benefits, healthcare reform, and retirement plans. We counsel a wide spectrum of clients including small, mid-sized, and large companies, 401(k) investment advisors, health insurance brokers, accountants, attorneys, and HR consultants, just to name a few. HBL is passionate about advising clients, and we are dedicated to our mission: to provide comprehensive, personalized, and practical ERISA and benefits legal solutions that exceed client expectations.

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