The Financial Accounting Standards Board decided at its April 14, 2010 meeting to adopt the staff’s recommendation for an employer to disclose both quantitative and qualitative information about the employer’s participation in a multiemployer pension plan.

Background

Currently an employer’s statements provide very little detail regarding its participation in multiemployer plans. Many concerns were raised regarding the lack of information in statements regarding an employer’s participation in a multiemployer plan. The employer currently only has to state the amount of contributions made to the multiemployer plan for the year in its statements.

Several publications highlighted the significant deterioration of the funded status of many multiemployer plans during the financial crisis of 2008 when plan assets dropped significantly. This deterioration led to many multiemployer plans requiring increased contributions in order to meet funding requirements.

Possible Disclosure Requirements

The following is a list of possible new disclosure requirements for the employer’s statements:

  • Identify all multiemployer plans in which the employer is a participating employer.
  • The funding status of the multiemployer plans.
  • The extent of the employer’s participation.
  • The budgeted contributions
  • Potential withdrawal liability.

In addition, the employer may also be required to provide a narrative on future contribution trends, the employer’s influence on the plan’s financial decisions and risks from other employers withdrawing from the plan.

Disclosure Date

These new requirements are on a fast track with required disclosure to take effect for fiscal years ending after December 15, 2010 for public companies. Nonpublic entities would be subject to these new requirements the first annual period beginning after December 15, 2010.

Conclusion

The FASB board had directed the staff to begin drafting a proposed Accounting Standards Update. The staff expects to issue the proposed Update in the second quarter of 2010 and a final Update early in the fourth quarter of 2010. This will leave little time for employers to transition to the new rules when they are finalized. Therefore, an employer that participates in one or more multiemployer plans should start to gather the multiemployer plan information it may need to disclose on its 2010 year-end statements.