The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has announced its decision to make its Pilot Mediation Program a permanent project, given its early success in helping to resolve pension termination liability collection and Early Warning Program cases.
In addition to making the mediation program permanent, PBGC has added fiduciary breach cases to the categories of disputes covered. According to PBGC officials, this gives pension plan administrators the opportunity to resolve these cases with “a neutral, professional, independent mediator in a timely and cost-effective manner.”
The mediation program initially launched in October 2017 and was meant to help opposing parties resolve cases with the assistance of a skilled, neutral and independent dispute resolution professional. The mediation project was described as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to make it easier for sponsors to maintain their pension plans.
PBGC initially chose termination liability collections cases and Early Warning Program matters for the pilot project as potentially reaping the greatest benefit from mediation. Since the launch of the program, PBGC officials have observed additional opportunities for effective mediation of fiduciary breach matters.
Other recent changes at the PBGC are recounted on the organizations website. Among these changes, PBGC recently adjusted its maximum penalty amounts for failures to provided required information and notices. PBGC is required to adjust these amounts to account for inflation and other factors, but the agency says its goal is to encourage compliance, not to penalize plans that inadvertently forget to file information.