ERISA- EBSA Issues Interim e-Disclosure Policy Under The Participant Fee Disclosure Regulation

According to a Press Release (9/13/11), the Employee Benefits Security Administration (the “EBSA”) has issued Technical Release 2011-03 (the “Technical Release”), which contains an interim policy regarding the use of electronic media to satisfy disclosure requirements under the ESBA’s final participant-level fee disclosure regulation (the “Regulation”) (found at 29 CFR 2550.404a-5).

The Press Release says the following. The Regulation requires employers to disclose more information about plan and investment costs to workers who direct their own investments in ERISA-covered 401(k) and other individual account retirement plans. Under the Regulation, plans generally have until at least May 31, 2012 to start giving better information on 401(k) and similar plan fees and expenses to an estimated 72 million participants.

The Technical Release allows plan administrators to electronically furnish information required under the Regulation. This includes the use of continuous access websites, if certain conditions and safeguards are met. The Technical Release states that the EBSA will not take enforcement action based solely on a plan administrator’s use of electronic technologies to make the required disclosures under the Regulation, if the administrator complies with the conditions in the Technical Release. The relief in the Technical Release is specifically limited to the disclosures required under the Regulation .

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