ERISA-DOL Issues Final Safe Harbor Rule On Deadline For Depositing Employee Contributions In Small Employee Benefit Plans

In a Press Release, dated December 13, 2009, the Department of Labor (the “DOL”) announced the publication of a final rule, which provides a safe harbor deadline for depositing employee contributions in a small pension or welfare benefit plan (i.e., a plan that has under 100 participants). This deadline is the seventh business day after the day on which the contribution in question is received or withheld from pay by the employer.

According to the Press Release, at present, 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 by the 15th business day of the month following the month in which the contributions are received or withheld from pay 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. The new final rule provides the safe harbor deadline described above.

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.