Blackout Period – Definition

Cite this article as:"Blackout Period – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated May 15, 2019, last accessed November 26, 2020,


Blackout Period (Investment Plans) Definition

A blackout period can be a period of three successive business days or a period not above 60 days that disallows employees from altering their already-made investment or retirement plans. During a blackout period, no modification, correction or alteration is permitted to be made on contract terms, investment policies, retirement plans among others.

Many companies adopt a blackout period when certain decisions, plans, restructuring and changes are to be made. The blackout allows the company carry out the task without any interference from the employees. Since this period prohibits access or modification from majority of the employees, it is import that a notice be given prior to this time.

A Little More on What is a Blackout Period

Blackouts periods are not just embarked on by companies, there are certain rules guiding blackout that must be followed by organizations. Most public companies undergo blackout periods to prevent insiders trading or exchange securities. In a bid to protect employees from being underprivileged during blackout periods, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) establish certain rules that guide blackout periods.

During this period, directors and executive officers are prohibited from selling or transferring securities. Also, notification must be given to the director and employees by the issuer of blackout period prior to the selected date. Insider trading is also illegal during this period, this is to prevent certain persons from enjoying an unjust advantage over others.

References for Blackout Period

Academic Research on Blackout Period

Enron, pension policy, and social security privatization, Kaplan, R. L. (2004). Ariz. L. Rev., 46, 53.

Adult Derivative Benefits in Social Security, Blumberg, G. G. (1980). Stanford Law Review, 233-292.

Left in the dark: Sarbanes-Oxley and corporate abuse of 401 (k) plan blackout periods, Klass, K. M. (2003). J. Corp. L., 29, 801.

The value of supply security: The costs of power interruptions: Economic input for damage reduction and investment in networks, De Nooij, M., Koopmans, C., & Bijvoet, C. (2007). Energy Economics, 29(2), 277-295.

Learning the Lessons from Enron: Implementing a Preventive Process That Withstands ERISA Scrutiny, Rajan, A. (2001). Preventive L. Rep., 20, 21.

Pending reform: An examination of proposed changes to defined-contribution plan design, Cole, C. R. (2002). Journal of Financial Service Professionals, 56(4), 57.

Company stock in US financial participation plans—sound policy or a lottery ticket?, Hildebrandt, D. A., & Ferrigno, E. (2002). Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, 8(1), 87-102.

The Collapse of the Enron Corporation and its Effects on 401 (k) Retirement Plans, Shore, B. T. (2002).

A Look at the Causes, Impact and Future of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Green, S. (2004). J. Int’l Bus. & L., 3, 33.

Forcing Canada’s Hand-The Effect of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act on Canadian Corporate Governance Reform, Pillay, S. (2003). Man. LJ, 30, 285.

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