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e-Alert: DOL Issues 2021 Adjusted Penalty Amounts

By February 24, 2021No Comments


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released the 2021 annual adjustments to the maximum civil penalties employers can face when violating federal law that fall under their jurisdiction. Penalties can be enforced for violating a wide range of laws, such as ERISA and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The most common incurred penalties are due to Employee benefit plans, where sometimes the employer fails to provide mandated disclosures and notices.


Penalties Assessed After January 15, 2021

Type of health or welfare benefit plan failure

Maximum penalty


2021 (after Jan. 15)

2020 (after Jan. 15)

Failure to file Form 5500

$2,259/day late

$2,233/day late

Failure to file a multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA) annual report

(Form M-1)

$1,644/day late

$1,625/day late

Failure to provide plan document to DOL within 30 days after request

$161/day late (not to exceed $1,613/request)

$159/day late (not to exceed $1,594/request)

Failure to inform employees of Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage opportunities (each employee is a separate violation)

$120/day late

$119/day late

Failure to timely provide to any state information about coverage coordination with Medicaid or CHIP (each participant or beneficiary is a separate violation)

$120/day late

$119/day late

Failure to provide summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) with uniform glossary

$1,190 per failure

$1,176 per failure

Failure to meet genetic information restrictions (on discriminating in eligibility, coverage, or premiums, requesting or requiring genetic tests; collecting genetic information, etc.)

$120/day of noncompliance

$119/day of noncompliance

Minimum penalty for de minimis failure not corrected before notice for DOL



Minimum penalty for non-de minimus failure not corrected before notice from DOL



Cap on penalties for unintentional failures



The penalties listed cover a wide range of benefit plan compliance failures. The DOL has issued some leniency in some instances such as programs designed to encourage Form 5500 filing, so not all violations will result in the maximum permitted penalty.

Employers should also take into consideration relief granted during the COVID-19 pandemic which allowed for more time to provide these disclosures, could result in triggering penalties if terms of that relief have not been met.

Employers Next Steps

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This content is provided with the understanding that HR Knowledge is not rendering legal advice. While every effort is made to provide current information, the law changes regularly and laws may vary depending on the state or municipality. The material is made available for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice or your professional judgment. You should review applicable laws in your jurisdiction and consult experienced counsel for legal advice. If you have any questions regarding this content, please contact HR Knowledge at 508.339.1300 or email us.


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