Employers have long been anticipating sample notices from the Department of Labor (“DOL”) that are required under the Affordable Care Act, informing employees (i) of the existence of the health care exchange (“Exchange”) and certain information about the services provided through the Exchange; (ii) of the possibility that in certain circumstances the employee may be eligible for a premium tax credit if the employee purchases a qualified health plan through the Exchange; and (iii) that the employee may lose the employer contribution, if any, to any health plan offered by the employer if he or she purchases health care coverage through the Exchange.

On May 8, 2013, the DOL issued Technical Release 2013-02 (the “Release”), which applies to any employers covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The Release sets forth the form and content requirements for the notice. It also provides that the notice must be provided to all current employees no later than October 1, 2013.

To assist employers, the DOL provided model notices for employers who do not offer a health plan and another model notice for employers that do offer a health plan to some or all of its employees. Employers may use the appropriate model notices, or a modified/supplemented version of either, provided that it meets the content requirements set forth in the Release.

The DOL also released an updated model COBRA election notice, which informs qualified beneficiaries of other coverage options available through the Exchange.

Although the Release only provides temporary guidance, and further guidance may be issued in the coming months, employers should proceed expeditiously with plans to notify their employees of the availability of the Exchange and the coverage options offered through the Exchange no later than  October 1, 2013.