29 CFR § 2520.104-20 - Limited exemption for certain small welfare plans.
(a) Scope. Under the authority of section 104(a)(3) of the Act, the administrator of any employee welfare benefit plan which covers fewer than 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year and which meets the requirements of paragraph (b) of this section is exempted from certain reporting and disclosure provisions of the Act. Specifically, the administrator of such plan is not required to file with the Secretary an annual or terminal report. In addition, the administrator of a plan exempted under this section -
(1) Is not required to furnish participants covered under the plan and beneficiaries receiving benefits under the plan with statements of the plan's assets and liabilities and receipts and disbursements and a summary of the annual report required by section 104(b)(3) of the Act;
(2) Is not required to furnish upon written request of any participant or beneficiary a copy of the annual report and any terminal report, as required by section 104(b)(4) of the Act;
(3) Is not required to make copies of the annual report available for examination by any participant or beneficiary in the principal office of the administrator and such other places as may be necessary, as required by section 104(b)(2) of the Act.
(b) Application. This exemption applies only to welfare benefit plans -
(1) Which have fewer than 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year;
(i) For which benefits are paid as needed solely from the general assets of the employer or employee organization maintaining the plan, or
(ii) The benefits of which are provided exclusively through insurance contracts or policies issued by an insurance company or similar organization which is qualified to do business in any State or through a qualified health maintenance organization as defined in section 1310(d) of the Public Health Service Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 300e-9(d), the premiums for which are paid directly by the employer or employee organization from its general assets or partly from its general assets and partly from contributions by its employees or members, Provided, That contributions by participants are forwarded by the employer or employee organization within three months of receipt, or
(3) For which, in the case of an insured plan -
(i) Refunds, to which contributing participants are entitled, are returned to them within three months of receipt by the employer or employee organization, and
(ii) Contributing participants are informed upon entry into the plan of the provisions of the plan concerning the allocation of refunds; and
(4) Which are not subject to the Form M-1 requirements under § 2520.101-2 (Filing by Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements and Certain Other Related Entities).
(c) Limitations. This exemption does not exempt the administrator of an employee benefit plan from any other requirement of title I of the Act, including the provisions which require that plan administrators furnish copies of the summary plan description to participants and beneficiaries (section 104(b)(1)) and furnish certain documents to the Secretary of Labor upon request (section 104(a)(6)), and which authorize the Secretary of Labor to collect information and data from employee benefit plans for research and analysis (section 513).
(1) A welfare plan has 75 participants at the beginning of the plan year and 105 participants at the end of the plan year. Plan benefits are fully insured and premiums are paid directly to the insurance company by the employer pursuant to an insurance contract purchased with premium payments derived half from the general assets of the employer and half from employee contributions (which the employer forwards within three months of receipt). Refunds to the plan are paid to participating employees within three months of receipt as provided in the plan and as described to each participant upon entering the plan. The plan appoints the employer as its plan administrator. The employer, as plan administrator, provides summary plan descriptions to participants and beneficiaries. He also makes copies of certain plan documents available at the plan's principal office and such other places as necessary to give participants reasonable access to them. The exemption provided by § 2520.104-20 applies even though the plan has more than 100 participants by the end of the plan year, because it had fewer than 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year and otherwise satisfied the conditions of the exemption.
(2) A welfare plan is established and maintained in the same way as the plan described in example (1), except that a trade association which sponsors the plan is the holder of the insurance contract. Since the plan still sends the premium payments directly to the insurance company, the exemption applies, as in example (1).