EP Examination Process Guide - Section 9 - Participant Rights - Plan Events - When a Plan May Impose a Blackout Period
In an individual account plan, the plan may impose a blackout period where there is a temporary suspension, limitation, or restriction on the ability of participants to direct or diversify assets or to obtain loans or to take plan distributions. When a blackout period is imposed, participants should receive a communication regarding the blackout period.
Description: The blackout notice describes when a blackout period is being imposed including any restrictions that limit a participant’s ability to direct or diversify their plan account.
What It Should Contain: A blackout notice should contain information on the expected beginning and end date of the blackout. The notice should also provide the reason for the blackout and what rights will be restricted as a result. The notice must specify a plan contact for answering any questions about the blackout period. For additional information on blackout notices, please refer to DOL Reg. 2520.101-3 or to the Department of Labor - Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Timing: A participant should receive a blackout notice at least 30 days, but not more than 60 days, in advance of any blackout. If extenuating circumstances prevent the plan administrator from sending the notice out at least 30 days prior to a blackout period, the administrator must provide the notice as soon as administratively possible under the circumstances.
Who Is Responsible For Sending It: The administrator of the plan.