DoL Gives Small Employers Seven Days to Deposit Contributions

January 13, 2010 ( - The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) announced the publication of a final rule to protect employee contributions deposited to small pension and welfare benefit plans with fewer than 100 participants.

According to the announcement, the final rule amends the participant contribution rules to create a safe harbor period under which participant contributions to a small plan will be deemed to comply with the law if those amounts are deposited with the plan within seven business days of receipt or withholding. 

Currently, employers of all sizes must transmit employee contributions to pension plans as soon as they can reasonably be segregated from the general assets of the employer, but no later than the 15th business day of the month following the month in which contributions are received or withheld by the employer.  The latest date for forwarding participant contributions to health plans is 90 days from the date on which such amounts are received or withheld by the employer.

The DoL said it did not expand the safe harbor to cover plans with 100 or more participants due to a lack of information and data sufficient to evaluate current practices of such employers and assess the costs, benefits, and risks to participants associated with extending the safe harbor to large plans.

The final rule is to be published in the January 14, 2010, edition of the Federal Register and will be effective on the date of publication.