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Safe Harbor: Notice General Instructions

The Safe Harbor Notices and instructions have been created to be used by clients that have elected Lincoln Financial Group (Lincoln) Plan Document Services. Lincoln Plan Document Services include items such as: the preparation of amendments or restatements, summary plan descriptions and the 5300 Series forms for submission to the IRS. Lincoln will not be responsible for unauthorized use of this notice.

Before beginning this process, you may want to consult with your service provider or third party administrator to find out if it is providing this annual Safe Harbor Notice.

To determine which notice to use, check your current plan document.

There are four templates available:

  1. The Notice appropriate for a plan that is committing to provide a 3% non-elective safe harbor for the coming plan year.
  2. The Notice appropriate for a plan that may or may not provide the 3% non-elective safe harbor contribution ( "tentative 3% safe harbor"). The employer will decide and notify employees at least 30 days before the end of the plan year.
  3. The Notice appropriate for a plan that distributed the "tentative 3% safe harbor" notice the year before and is announcing that the 3% safe harbor contribution will or will not be made for the plan year just ending.
  4. The Notice appropriate for a plan that is providing a safe harbor matching contribution for the coming plan year.

The notice must be provided annually at least 30 days and no more than 90 days prior to the beginning of the plan year, i.e., plan year is January 1, notice must be given no earlier than October 1 and no later than December 1.

If the safe harbor contribution is a tentative 3% safe harbor contribution, the plan document may need to be amended. You must contact us no later than 60 days before the end of the current plan year. Lincoln will prepare the amendment for your signature.

If your safe harbor contribution is being made to a separate plan or you have questions regarding a safe harbor amendment, please contact your Plan Document Services Consultant.

For more detailed information, please review the "Safe Harbor Explanation" document.

The sample notices provided in the Quick Links area may assist the plan's sponsor in preparing an announcement to their employees. These notices are regarding safe harbor notices applicable to certain 401(k) plans. The plan's legal documents control the plan provisions and should be carefully matched with this notice. This notice is not intended to serve as a summary plan description. This sample should not be construed as legal advice regarding the establishment or implementation of a tax qualified retirement program. Plan sponsors are encouraged to consult with their advisors regarding this information as it relates to their company.

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