The Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program (FSP) appreciates this opportunity to provide comments on the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Proposed Rule Regarding the Definition of “Employer” Under Section 3(5) of ERISA – Association Retirement Plans and Other Multiple-Employer Plans (RIN 1210-AB88).
Ultimately, more sweeping changes to ERISA, or even an entirely novel regulatory structure, may be necessary to usher in a new occupational safety net for the 21st century, one that is less dependent on employer-provided benefits. Such a future does not seem as far-fetched as it did even a few years ago, given the evolving nature of work and the growing wariness of employers to the legal liability – however minimized – that comes with retirement plan sponsorship. Of course, before large-scale policy changes such as these are enacted, additional research and debate will be needed. Aspen FSP believes DOL could play a critical role in those areas by hosting public events that contribute to the discourse, organizing working groups to advise the agency, issuing guidance that clarifies the regulatory limits for would-be experimenters, and funding competitive grant programs to seed innovative pilots. These activities cold ultimately help achieve a key goal for both DOL and Aspen FSP: expand retirement plan coverage to those currently left out of the nation’s savings system.