Disclosure to Employee Benefit or Pension Plans

The best practice for employers is to advise employees when information is gathered that it will be shared with the administrator or the insurer of a benefit or pension plan.

In the case of the Municipal Employees’ Pension Plan (MEPP) there is a legislative requirement that certain employees must be registered in MEPP. Employers must supply MEPP with sufficient information for registration to take place and will not require the consent of the employee to do so. This would be justified by Section 28(2)(i) of LAFOIP which allow the sharing of information when required to comply with a statute or regulation.

In a similar manner collective agreements or employment contracts may require that employees are to be provided with certain benefit or pension plans. The collective agreement or signed employment contract will provide the employer with sufficient authority to provide the minimal information to allow the employee to be enrolled in the plan.

If there is ever any doubt on the part of the board as to whether specific information should be shared, an attempt can be made to get the written consent of the employee. If that cannot be done, the person who wants the information can be advised to deal directly with the employee

Commercial plan administrators (i.e. Manulife) and insurers are not covered by LAFOIP. They may, however, have their own statutory (i.e. FOIP or PIPEDA) or policy-driven confidentiality restrictions. If a board wishes to receive personal information from the plan administrator or insurer, the plan administrator or insurer will have to determine whether or not the disclosure of the information is allowed under their own confidentiality requirements. If they refuse to provide the information, the written consent for its disclosure must be obtained from the employee.

It may be possible for boards, plan administrators and insurers to develop a policy statement that sets out the types of information and circumstance in which it will be shared. This can become part of the benefit package materials that all employees understand how the information will be used.

Caution should be exercised by all parties to ensure that the interests and privacy of the employees are protected.