The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is raising concerns that a recent Labor Department decision could hurt workers' knowledge of their benefits.
The Labor Department decided not to take enforcement action against health and welfare benefit plans covering unionized workers whose financial statements do not comply with generally accepted accounting principles governing the disclosure of health care expenses promised to retired workers.
In a letter sent to Labor Secretary Robert Reich, Ronald S. Cohen, the chairman of the accountants' trade association, warned that the Labor Department's decision not to enforce the accounting rule "would deny workers complete information about the ability of their plan to pay for promised benefits now and in the future."
The department's failure to insist plans adhere to the rule also would affect the ability of outside auditors to report on the financial health of these plans, as required by federal pension law, Mr. Cohen wrote.
The accounting standard, Statement of Position 92-6, requires plans to give information to workers, sponsors, trustees and others to help them assess its ability to pay out present and future benefits when due.
The accounting standard, which already has been in effect for single-employer plans, began covering multiemployer benefit plans this year.