The Washington Farm Labor Association reminds all agricultural employers, regardless of the number of their workers, that October 1 begins the new requirement of providing workers with written notice of healthcare coverage options.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers must begin providing by letter a Notice of Coverage Options to each current employee by October 1, 2013. Any new hires thereafter should receive the notice within 14 days of their start date.

The Department of Labor provides guidance on the Notice to Employees of Coverage Options and has developed two model notice forms—one for employers that provide healthcare coverage and one for those who do not. The labor department has also developed answers to frequently asked questions about the Notice of Coverage Option. Both the sample notice letters and frequently asked questions are found on the Department of Labor’s website.

Included in the FAQ is discussion about penalties for noncompliance. There has been some concern about penalties, rumored to be $100 per day for noncompliance. But in the newly released FAQ webpage, the Department of Labor states that companies covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act should provide a written notice to their employees about the Washington Healthplanfinder by October 1, but there is no fine or penalty under the law.

The Farm Labor Association advises employers to make their own legal inquiries before making decisions based on this information.