The Department of Labor proposed a new rule today that would allow online retirement plan disclosures online—a move the agency estimates will reduce plan sponsor and participant costs as much $2.4 billion over the next 10 years.

The rule would offer a safe harbor for employers who want to make retirement plan disclosures accessible on a website, rather than sending volumes of paper documents through printers and the mail. Employees would still be able to choose snail-mailed paper disclosures.

“This proposal offers Americans choice in how they receive important retirement information,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “By adjusting for modern technology, the Department can help save billions of dollars in costs for the U.S. economy.

The proposal, which DOL said will make plan disclosures more readily available to participants, tracks President Trump’s executive order, which commanded the DOL to make retirement plan disclosures more understandable and useful for workers, while also reducing the costs and burdens the disclosures impose on employers and plan administrators.

Plan participants would be notified that information is available online, including instructions for how to access the disclosures and their right to receive paper copies of disclosures. The proposal also includes additional protections for retirement savers, such as standards for the website where disclosures will be posted and system checks for invalid electronic addresses.

“This is really great news for plan sponsors and participants because it’s really going to save them money, which can be passed along to help employees put away more toward their retirement,” American Retirement Association President Brian Graff told Financial Advisor Magazine.

“All the same information will be available and actually more accessible because it will be online.  Participants who want paper can always opt in. What’s happening now is that people who don’t want paper are having to pay for all that overhead anyway,” Graff added.

The agency said it expects the proposal to expand use of internet technology to furnish covered disclosures to workers and to result in approximately $2.4 billion net cost savings over the next 10 years for ERISA-covered retirement plans by eliminating materials, printing and mailing costs associated with furnishing printed disclosures.

The DOL “is focusing on rulemaking that eliminates unnecessary burdens while furthering the needs of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States,” Scalia added.

In addition to the benefits to workers and job creators contemplated by the proposed rule, DOL is requesting views on whether other, additional steps could be taken to further improve workers’ retirement plan disclosure experience. To that end, the proposal also includes a separate request for information that contains detailed questions covering a broad range of disclosure-related topics, including scope, content, design and delivery.

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