Besides prioritizing the executive orders that were issued by President Donald Trump late last year on strengthening retirement security, the Labor Department is zeroing in on missing participants, with “sub-regulatory guidance” for plan sponsors in this area in the works, Preston Rutledge, assistant secretary for Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, said Tuesday.
Speaking at the National Institute on Retirement Security policy conference in Washington, Rutledge said that since his arrival a year ago, Labor’s “regulatory priorities are driven” by the executive orders, which address two issues: Clarifying and expanding the ability to offer multiple employer plans, or MEPs, and “to complete a review of action” on required retirement plan disclosures for participants.
DOL published a proposed rule last October that if finalized, he said, will level the playing field in offering these association retirement plans, also called MEPs.
“We may change the rule,” he said, adding that Labor is still going through the comments.
However, the missing-participants issue “is very much on our radar screen,” Rutledge continued.
EBSA, he said, is “currently taking a lot of stakeholder meetings, by stakeholders I mean employers, [third-party administrators], the recordkeepers, the folks that keep track of the participants,” in order to understand “various best practices that employers have learned, and what our department has learned, through our audits, and that we’ve developed over the years to find missing participants.”
As it stands now, Labor is conducting an audit program on missing participants, Rutledge relayed.
Audits of defined benefit plans conducted a few years ago found that “payments had remained unpaid for many years,” he said, which could have been due to poor recordkeeping or because of hard-to-find participants.