Civil monetary penalties increased for a number of compliance-related items, including several that will impact group health and welfare plans.
In 2015, Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015 (the “Inflation Adjustment Act”) to direct federal agencies to adjust the civil monetary penalties for inflation every year. Civil penalties ensure compliance with federal regulation by offering incentives to employers not to violate federal regulation and providing federal agencies the power to ensure compliance. However, when penalties are too low, or have failed to be increased for inflation, compliance with federal regulation remains stagnant.
The Department of Labor (DOL) recently published the final rule to adjust for inflation the civil monetary penalties assessed or enforced in its regulations, and the annual adjustments for 2017 that increases certain penalties applicable to employee benefit plans. The updated penalties went into effect on January 13, 2017 and apply to penalties assessed after the effective date.
Annual Penalty Adjustments for 2017
The following updated penalties are applicable to health and welfare plans subject to ERISA.
Private employers, including non-profits, should ensure employees receive required notices timely (SBC, CHIP, SPD, etc.) to prevent civil penalty assessments. In addition, employers should ensure Form 5500s are properly and timely filed. Finally, employers facing document requests from EBSA should ensure documents are provided timely, as requested.