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Congress enacted the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in 1974. This federal law regulates group-sponsored benefits (also called “welfare benefit plans”). The main purpose of ERISA is to protect the interests of employees (and their beneficiaries) who are enrolled in employee benefit plans, and to ensure that employees receive the pensions and group-sponsored welfare benefits that have been promised by their employers. Employee welfare benefit plans include health and life insurance, disability insurance, vacation, sick pay, on-site day care facilities, pre-paid legal services, severance pay, educational assistance, financial assistance for employee housing expenses, accidental death benefits and even employee voluntary benefits in some instances. Most employers do not realize just how much ERISA empowers employees. Because of ERISA, employees and their beneficiaries can initiate civil and criminal actions in federal court to enforce the requirements of ERISA or to enforce the terms of a welfare benefit plan. Failure to comply with ERISA can be costly to an employer, with daily and cumulative penalties possible.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires plan administrators, which is the employer, to give plan participants in writing the most important facts they need to know about their retirement and health benefit plans, including plan rules, financial information, and documents on the operation and management of the plan. Some of these facts must be provided to participants regularly and automatically by the plan administrator.
Compliance with ERISA law is extremely complex. To make matters even worse, Congress amends ERISA laws nearly every year. As the laws in different states on Human Resources get more complex, keeping current can spell the difference between success and disaster.
Our expert team will help meet your compliance obligations because we stay up to date on laws and regulations that affect your employee benefit program.
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