Efforts to Expand Retirement Plan Access: An Overview of Recent Federal Rulemaking Related to Multiple Employer Plans (MEPs)

August 6, 2019

Download webinar slide deck (PDF)

Over the past few months, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and U.S. Treasury Department have published three regulatory notices related to multiple employer plan (MEP) arrangements.

The Georgetown Center for Retirement Initiatives hosted a one-hour webinar about what each of these administrative actions could mean for the future growth and adoption of MEPs and how they intersect with pending legislative proposals related to MEPs.

The administrative actions discussed included:

  • On October 23, 2018, the DOL published a proposed rule that would broaden the types of organizations that can sponsor MEPs and refine the definition of organizations that may qualify as “employers” for purposes of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on July 31, 2019.
  • Related to this final rule, the DOL also issued a Request for Information (RFI) — open for comment for 90 days until October 29, 2019 — published in the Federal Register on July 31, 2019, that asks for additional input about the definition of “employer” in Section 3(5) of ERISA. According to the DOL, the RFI is in response to public comments submitted for the October proposed rule and could serve as the basis for future rulemaking.
  • Finally, the Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published a proposed rule on July 3, 2019 — open for comment until October 1, 2019 — that would address the “one bad apple” rule related to how a participating employer might affect the tax qualification of a MEP.


  • Michael Kreps, Partner, Groom Law Group
  • David Morse, Partner, K&L Gates


  • Angela M. AntonelliResearch Professor and Executive Director, Center for Retirement Initiatives, Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy