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EBSA Releases Electronic Disclosure Policy

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The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has come out with an interim policy regarding the use of electronic media to satisfy participant-level fee notice requirements.

EBSA, an arm of the U.S. Labor Department, has described the interim policy in Technical Release 2011-03, which creates a safe harbor for employers that want to use e-mail or other electronic media to meet the new disclosure requirements.

Starting May 31, 2012, the new rules will require employers to give workers who participate in 401(k) plans and similar retirement plans more information about plan administrative costs.

EBSA will be letting employers provide the information electronically if the plan participants “have the ability to effectively access documents furnished in electronic form at any location where the participant is reasonably expected to perform his or her duties as an employee and with respect to whom access to the employer’s or plan sponsor’s electronic information system is an integral part of those duties,” officials say.

A safe harbor also will apply to other employees and other plan participants, such as retirees, who do not use computers often at work but agree to get the disclosures through electronic means, officials say.

- Allison Bell

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