As clean-up efforts continue, the long-term business disruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy have prompted the Department of Labor to modify its EBSA compliance rules to provide some latitude to those affected by the storm.
Plan fiduciaries, plan sponsors, service providers, participants and beneficiaries affected by the storm will have a slight reprieve in a series of compliance measures which apply to employers and the like in East Coast counties impacted by storm damage.
As part of those measures, the DOL confirms that it will also allow hardship loans and distributions from retirement-related DC and pension plans, as has been announced by the IRS.
The DOL will also provide a longer grace period for the collection of participant payments and withholdings to employee pension benefit plans, as long as employers and service providers act reasonably, prudently and attempt to comply as soon as is practical, given the ongoing disruptions and disaster relief efforts.
Plan administrators will also be given a pass if they are unable to inform participants of a blackout period related to an employee retirement plan.
ERISA group health plan compliance issues are also part of the announcement, with enhanced grace periods and more relief available for issues including the filing of benefit claims and COBRA benefits.
The full release, with links to further DOL and EBSA resources, is available here.