DOL Updates COBRA Notices
Laws and regulations are changing rapidly. After the publication of this article they are subject to change. Check back regularly for updates.
On May 1, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) posted new model COBRA notices and a series of FAQs regarding the model notices. You can find them here https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra
Although employers should consider using the new model notices, the DOL has acknowledged that use of the notices are not mandatory and would merely be considered evidence of an employer’s good faith compliance, but by the DOL only. Since ERISA provides qualified individuals with an independent right to sue for COBRA violations, a plan sponsor may still be sued for deficient notice even if they use the new model notices. The risk of litigation related to deficient notice has been exponentially increased by furloughs, layoffs and reduction in hours triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, it would be a good idea for plan sponsors to review their COBRA notices to ensure that they are as up to date as possible.