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Labor Department Provides Interim Guidance on Electronic Fee Disclosures

October 31, 2011
The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has issued an interim policy with regard to providing electronic disclosures of information required under the participant-level fee disclosure final rule.  Generally, this rule requires retirement plan sponsors and employers to disclose certain plan and investment-related information, including information about fees and expenses, to participants and beneficiaries of participant-directed investment plans, such as 401(k) plans. Providing information to employees electronically has become more of a common practice due to administrative and cost efficiencies.  "This technical release responds to requests by some plan sponsors and service providers to expand the ability of ERISA plans to use modern electronic disclosure technologies to communicate with plan participants while ensuring that all workers will benefit from the increased transparency provided by our fee disclosure rule," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration Phyllis C. Borzi in a recent statement. To help individuals make informed decisions regarding their investments, the final rule required plan administrators to begin sharing more information with individuals starting with plans effective Nov. 1, 2011, and after.  Since the guidelines were only recently made available to plan administrators, EBSA has delayed the effective date of the final rule to April 1, 2012.  Then, plan sponsors and employers will have 60 days from the start date of the plan year, or 60 days after the regulation’s effective date of April 1, 2012, whichever is later, to provide information to participants. Electronic disclosures may be distributed only to employees who ordinarily have access to computers as an integral part of their job duties and to other participants (i.e., retirees, former employees, beneficiaries, and employee-participants who don’t have a computer as an integral part of their duties) who have agreed, in writing, to receive disclosures electronically. For additional information, employers may use EBSA’s Small Business Retirement Savings Advisor which provides answers to a variety of questions about retirement savings options for small business employers and determines which program may be most appropriate for a business.  Further resources are available to AGC members and chapters on AGC’s Labor & HR Topical Resources webpage under the main category “Compensation” and subcategory “Retirement Savings Benefits.”
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