On May 7, 2012, the Department of Labor (DOL) released Field Assistance Bulletin 2012-02 (the “Bulletin”), which provides additional guidance on the final participant-level fee disclosure regulations (the “Participant-Level Regulation”) in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers. The Bulletin is also intended to provide guidance with respect to the final 408(b)(2) disclosure regulations (the “408(b)(2) Regulation”)(together with the Participant-Level Regulation, the “Regulations”) to the extent that the information that covered service providers are required to disclose under those regulations is necessary for plan administrators to comply with the participant-level disclosure requirements. The final Participant-Level Regulation becomes effective August 30, 2012, while the 408(b)(2) Regulation takes effect July 1, 2012.
Among other guidance, the Bulletin addresses the compliance difficulties that covered service providers and plan administrators may encounter if they have already furnished or are preparing to furnish their initial disclosures pursuant to the Regulations. Specifically, DOL acknowledges that it may be unduly difficult or expensive to bring such disclosures into compliance with the Bulletin before the Regulations’ respective effective dates. DOL therefore states that although it will not grant a broad-based extension for compliance with the Regulations, it generally will take no enforcement action against a covered service provider or plan administrator who has acted in good faith based on a reasonable interpretation of the Regulations and who also establishes a plan for complying with the requirements of the Bulletin in future disclosures.
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