The Department of Labor recently issued the Form M-1, an annual report that must be filed by Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs). In general, a MEWA is an arrangement that offers health or other welfare benefits to employees of more than one employer. Employers that are part of a controlled group of businesses are treated as a single employer for these purposes.

MEWAs must file both the Form M-1 and a Form 5500. The due date for the M-1 is March 1 following the calendar year for which the filing is required. Because March 1, 2014 is a Saturday, the due date for 2014 is March 3, 2014. Extensions of time may be available.

Most of the employers that we represent do not participate in MEWAs and are not required to file the Form M-1. However, the form contains a good self compliance tool on certain provisions of ERISA, including

  • HIPAA portability compliance
  • pre-existing conditions limitations
  • certificates of creditable coverage
  • special enrollment rights
  • nondiscrimination based on health status
  • the Mental Health Parity Act
  • the Newborns and Mothers Act
  • the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act
  • the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
  • Michelle’s Law
  • various Affordable Care Act (health care reform) requirements

Although single employer plans do not need to file the M-1, they do need to comply with these laws. The self-compliance tool can be a helpful check to make sure that employer plans meet required standards.