This answer can vary. In order to be exempt from compliance the benefit must be an employer paid short-term disability or salary continuation benefits (one of the few benefits that can be treated as a payroll practice), and through a safe harbor in ERISA. No plan or SPD is required if the short-term disability benefits are treated as a payroll practice or income replacement. The benefits could be communicated to employees via an employee handbook or some other medium. If the benefit is insured or paid in part by the employee, the DOL safe harbor is NOT applicable. The benefit then will be an ERISA benefit plan, which requires a plan document and SPD.