ERIC to DOL: Reduce the Regulatory Burden

April 14, 2011

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ERIC News Release
For Immediate Release: April 14, 2011

Washington, D.C. -- The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) on April 8 submitted comments to the Department of Labor (DOL) in response to a Request for Information (RFI) on ways the Department could reduce the burden associated with its regulations.

In noting that ERIC appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on DOL's review, the letter says that:

"As federal regulations become more complex and pervasive, ERIC's members spend a larger and larger portion of their available time, effort, and financial resources complying with federal requirements. ERIC's members believe that these resources often would be better spent preserving and enhancing workers' benefits."

ERIC's letter also contends that much could be gained if large employers, and others key stakeholders, were engaged on an ongoing basis in the Department's regulatory review process, and recommended that a group representing key stakeholders be constituted to meet on a regular basis to review regulations that have been published during the previous period.

The RFI was published in the Federal Register on March 21 in response to President Obama's January 18th Executive Order instructing federal agencies to evaluate their methods for reviewing existing regulations to identify whether the regulations could be made more effective or less burdensome.

ERIC offered improvements on both health and retirement-related regulations, including:

  • Permit electronic disclosure without affirmative consent, saying that it is not practical for large employers to obtain, store, and administer electronic consents from tens of thousands of workers, retirees, alternate payees, COBRA beneficiaries, and other individuals, and that DOL's restrictions make electronic disclosure effectively unavailable to large employers.

  • Clarify that most employee assistance programs are not group health plans, noting that the Department has never provided formal guidance concerning the status of these programs, but has issued advisory opinions indicating that the programs will be treated as group health plans if they offer limited counseling benefits.

  • Resolve the conflict between the fee disclosure requirement for participant-directed plans and the Securities and Exchange Commission's summary prospectus requirement, noting that it is confusing for plan participants and burdensome for plan administrators to disclose operating expenses in two different ways for the same funds.

  • Increase Form 5500 reporting thresholds for non-monetary compensation (Instructions for Form 5500 Schedule C), saying that the burden of collecting and reporting information for business meals and other incidental forms of non-monetary compensation far exceeds any possible benefit associated with the reporting requirements.

  • Coordinate regulations affecting workplace wellness programs under Title I and II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), noting that employers are reluctant to invest additional time and money in developing wellness programs until the applicable law is clarified, and gives effect to the intent of Congress and the Administration to support workplace wellness programs.

A link to ERIC's comment letter appears below.

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For more information:
Ted Godbout
Director, Communications
The ERISA Industry Committee
1400 L Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 789-1400
Fax: (202) 789-1120
tgodbout@eric.org
www.eric.org

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The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) is a non-profit association committed to representing the advancement of the employee retirement, health, and compensation plans of America's largest employers. ERIC's members provide benchmark retirement, health care coverage, compensation, and other economic security benefits directly to tens of millions of active and retired workers and their families. ERIC has a strong interest in proposals affecting its members' ability to deliver those benefits, their cost and their effectiveness, as well as the role of those benefits in the American economy.