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Will MEPs Matter?

Multiple employer plans, or MEPs, have enjoyed bipartisan support on the Hill – and have even been included in various legislative proposals – but the legislative/regulatory “sanction” for so-called “open” MEPs remains elusive. This week, we’d like to know: Are you working with MEPs – and, if not, would you like to?

MEPs were, of course, a subject of discussion in a recent hearing by the House Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, alongside other legislative and regulatory solutions seen as improving retirement plan access. Enhancements to the design – specifically eliminating the “common nexus” requirement and the one-bad-apple rule – have most recently been incorporated in the Retirement Security for American Workers Act (H.R. 854).

In 2014, the ERISA Advisory Council threw its support behind the concept, but – at least during the Obama Administration – the Labor Department has maintained that, at least for retirement plans, participating employers must share a common employment-based nexus or other genuine organizational relationship beyond that of providing benefits. However, that same administration, as it was crafting guidance (since cancelled by the Trump administration) on state-run retirement plans, sanctioned the open MEP concept for those programs, acknowledging (some might say “creating”) what it termed a “unique representational interest” between a state and its citizenry that it found sufficient to permit participation in a MEP by otherwise unrelated employers.

It’s not as though there isn’t a MEP option. Specifically, a single MEP, otherwise known as a “closed MEP,” is a single employee benefit plan maintained by two or more employers that nonetheless meets the requirements of Code Section 413(c).

This week, we’d like to know about your experience with – and/or your expectations of doing so. You can respond to this week’s NAPA Net reader poll at

And we’ll have it all wrapped up for you on Friday!