MEP Proposed Rulemaking

Department of Labor

On July 31, 2019, the Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Labor (DOL), issued a Request for Information regarding the definition of “employer” in section 3(5) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended. According to the DOL, the RFI is in response to public comments submitted for the proposed rule in October 2018 (see next bullet for details) and could serve as the basis for future rulemaking. The RFI was open for comments for 90 days and closed on October 29, 2019.  All public comments submitted to the RFI can be viewed here.

In addition, on July 31, 2019, the Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Labor, published final rules of Definition of ‘Employer’ Under Section 3(5) of ERISA-Association Retirement Plans and Other Multiple-Employer Plans. The regulation addresses when a group or association of employers or PEO falls within the definition of “employer” under ERISA section 3(5) for purposes of sponsoring a MEP under title I of ERISA to cover the employees of member employers.

  • See the Department of Labor’s fact sheet and news release on the final rule.
  • The proposed rules were issued on October 23, 2018 and were open for public comments until December 24, 2018. On December 21, 2018, CRI submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Labor regarding this proposed rule. Click here to view the letter. All public comments can be viewed here. 

Additional Resources:

The District Court of Washington, D.C. ruled that portions of the U.S. Department of Labor’s rule relating to the definition of employer related to Associated Health Plan undercut the Affordable Care Act. Because the definition of employer for MEPs under ERISA is similar to that of employer for Associated Health Plans, there is concern that a court may similarly block U.S. Department of Labor’s s new MEP rule.

The U.S. Department of Labor proposed rules that clarify which organizations can sponsor MEPs as defined by ERISA section 3(5). The impact on state-run MEPs is unclear, as the proposed rules do not explicitly mention them.

Treasury Department

On July 3, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury, issued a notice of proposed rulemaking related to the tax qualifications of multiple employer plans. Proposed regulations would provide an exception to the “unified plan rule” if one employer fails to satisfy a qualification requirement or fail to provide information used to determine compliance with such requirements. The comment period closed on October 1, 2019.

Additional Resources:

ERISA Basics

View Recent DOL ERISA Advisory Council Reports:

CRI Policy Reports

  • Multiple Employer Plans: An Overview of Legal, Regulatory and Plan Design Considerations for States. Click here to learn more about how ERISA and other laws apply to MEPs.
  • Review of Potential Public Retirement Plan Options for Private Sector Employees/Employers in the State of Vermont. Click here to learn more about how ERISA and other laws apply to retirement plan design options.
  • State Initiatives to Expand the Availability and Effectiveness of Private Sector Retirement Plans: How Federal Laws Apply to Plan Design Options. Click here to learn more.