Overview: The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) sets minimum standards for pension, health and other welfare plans (i.e. life insurance, disability) in order to provide protection to participants in these plans. ERISA applies to private employers that provide employer-sponsored retirement, health and welfare benefit plans to employees.
ERISA does not require employers to offer benefit plans but regulates and sets standards for:
Two amendments to ERISA have expanded protection to participants and beneficiaries in health plans. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) provides employees and their families the opportunity to continue their health coverage after certain qualifying events; and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provides protection to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions. Other important amendments to ERISA include the Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act, the Mental Health Parity Act and the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act.
Trends: Communicating benefit plan information to employees is still an area of exposure for employers. If not done properly, employers run the risk of being liable for breach of fiduciary duty. To avoid this liability, employers should be sure to control the flow of information concerning benefits and ensure designated representatives are well-trained and can provide timely and accurate information.
Tracy Morley, SPHR, Legal Editor
Employee benefits, such as health insurance, sick pay, disability pay, workers' compensation insurance and retirement savings plans, may be subject to withholding for federal income taxes (FIT), Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes or federal unemployment (FUTA) taxes. This section assists HR professionals in understanding how each particular type of benefit plan must be structured and how to properly tax and report contributions, reimbursements and distributions in order to ensure compliance with the Internal Revenue Code.
The US Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) published two compliance tools to help employers see if their health plans comply with the requirements of Part 7 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires plan sponsors to meet fiduciary, reporting and disclosure requirements. ERISA also sets minimum standards for participation, vesting, benefit accruals and funding. This Legal Insight focuses on a plan sponsor's fiduciary and disclosure responsibilities under ERISA and explains how to navigate DOL regulations and enforcement activities.
Employers need to do everything they can to minimize claims by employees and the government. This section assists HR professionals in implementing proper policies and procedures, and understanding where the greatest risks lay and what the federal government's major enforcement initiatives are.
Open enrollment and benefit planning, design and communications are all hallmarks of fall, which marks the beginning of one of HR's busiest times.
A federal appeals court has held that employees who make informal complaints to management regarding deposits into their retirement accounts are covered under the antiretaliation provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
In-depth review of the spectrum of employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to Compliance, Reporting and Disclosure Requirements
Benefits typically account for one-third of employee compensation costs and are an essential element of an employer's total rewards strategy. HR professionals have to manage this huge investment wisely. This section provides an overview of the challenges employers face in aligning benefits and business strategies, managing rising health care costs, complying with statutory requirements and communicating benefits to employees.
Employer-sponsored health care benefits are an important part of the overall compensation package used to attract and retain employees. Employers, however, face a number of issues when deciding on employee health care benefits. This section assists HR professionals in understanding the different types of benefit plans (e.g., traditional indemnity, managed care), the benefits that may be offered (e.g., prescription drug, dental, vision), how cafeteria plans work and the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
In-depth review of the spectrum of employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to Retirement Benefits
HR guidance on complying with ERISA requirements.
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