Under the federal Affordable Health Care Act, businesses are required to notify employees about the state-run health insurance exchanges that open Oct. 1.

But penalties — $100 per employee for companies that do not inform workers — were eliminated late last week.

Local insurance brokers are still are urging employers to tell workers about the exchanges.

"It's like a public service to their employees and family members of employees and neighbors who may not be getting the word," said Bob Aita of Aita Associates in Sebastopol.

The online exchanges are marketplaces for consumers to shop for health insurance plans under Obamacare. The notification rule applies to businesses of any size, whether they offer insurance to employees or not.

Despite the ruling on penalties, the wisest course is to make sure employees are notified using forms that brokers can provide, said Victor McKnight, partner at Edgewood Partners Insurance Center in Petaluma.

"In a full Department of Labor audit I would still be a little concerned if someone didn't do it," he said.