All About PEP Plans for Small Businesses

Apr 11, 2024 1 min read

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,  only 68% of private-industry nonunion workers have access to retirement benefits, and businesses with under 100 employees are less likely to offer retirement plans than larger companies. 

The Department of Labor is aiming to reverse this trend with pooled employer plans (PEPs), which can make it easier for small businesses to provide their employees with retirement benefits.

What Is a PEP Retirement Plan?

A pooled employer plan is a type of multiple-employer 401(k) retirement plan that allows unrelated businesses to participate in one plan managed by a pooled plan provider (PPP). 

Introduced as a part of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement (SECURE) Act in 2019, pooled employer plans are designed to benefit employers by reducing the administrative and fiduciary responsibilities relating to the plan, which — as a business owner — means fewer hours spent reviewing your plan's investments and more time spent running your business. 

Prior to the SECURE Act’s passage, employers generally could only participate in multiple employer plans (MEPs) if they shared common factors (industry, geographical area, etc.) with other businesses participating in the plan. 

What’s the Difference Between a PEP 401(k) and a Single-Employer 401(k) Plan?

The fiduciary oversight of a PEP falls on the pooled plan provider rather than the employer. And although each PPP may set its own eligibility requirements, businesses joining a PEP benefit plan do not need to operate in the same industry or geographical area.

Pooled Employer Plans Pros and Cons

Advantages of PEPs

  • The PPP is the fiduciary of the PEP and has discretion over plan administration and investments, which can reduce the administrative burden and risks for participating companies.
  • Streamlining and delegating retirement plan administration to experts allows employers to focus their time and energy on running their business rather than managing benefits.
  • Tax credits can help offset PEP start-up costs. For the first three years of participation, employers may be eligible for a tax credit of $5,000 annually, with an additional $500 available to those who set up automatic enrollment.

Disadvantages of PEPs

  • PEPs don’t offer as much flexibility as single-employer retirement plans (SEPs), which limits your ability to customize your investment portfolio to meet your individual retirement goals and the needs of your employees.
  • With a SEP, the individual owner retains control and isn’t dependent on the actions or decisions of others, while PEPs require the involvement of a third party.
  • As part of a pooled employer plan, employers lack the freedom to choose a different service provider, move their plan or negotiate better pricing if they are unsatisfied with the cost or quality of service.

We’ll Help You Find the Plan That’s Right for You

We know that no business is the same, so when you work with Farm Bureau you can rest assured knowing you’re getting individualized recommendations tailored to fit the needs of your employees and your business.

Neither the Company nor its agents give tax, accounting or legal advice. Consult your professional adviser in these areas.

Want to learn more?

Contact a local FBFS agent or advisor for answers personalized to you.