On April 2, 2012, the Department of Labor (DoL) issued Field Assistance Bulletin providing guidance on appropriate plan expenses in the context of apprenticeship and training plans. These plans have unique characteristics not present in most welfare and pension plans however; the Bulletin provides insight into the DoL’s views regarding the permissibility of certain types of plan expenses to be paid by any ERISA plan. According to the DoL:
- Payments to promote, advertise or market a plan would, “except in rare circumstances” not be permissible.
- Any expense paid from plan assets must be justified as “appropriate and helpful to the plan obtaining the service in carrying out the purposes for which the plan is established or maintained.
- Using plan assets to buy tickets to sporting events and other entertainment events for plan participants, employers or fiduciaries is not permitted.
- The plan may not make donations to fiduciaries’ or officials’ favored charities or causes.