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Explaining ERISA for workers in California

Retirement is a common concern for workers in California and across the U.S. There are so many options and requirements in the world today that there can be a blurring of the lines as to what is required, what is optional and what employers are required to provide to employees. One method used to protect workers is ERISA. There are employees who are entitled to ERISA but do not receive it. If that is the case, it is important to understand details about what ERISA is and who should be getting it.

ERISA stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. It was passed in 1974 and is designed to provide protection to assets by placing funds in retirement plans so it will be available when the worker retires. With ERISA, the federal government has regulated minimum standards that private businesses must meet. If there is a retirement plan at the job, the employer is required to allow a worker to join it at a certain time. It says how long the worker must have been at the job to have an interest in the benefit that cannot be forfeited, how long the worker can be away from the job before the benefits are affected and if the spouse is entitled to part of the benefit if the employee dies.

An employer is not mandated to create a retirement plan under ERISA. It stipulates the parameters for those who do choose to start a retirement plan. With ERISA, workers will receive the following — information about the plan with its funding and features, minimum requirements to be able to participate, for it to vest and how benefits accrue and are funded, accountability for fiduciaries and their behavior, the right to file a legal claim to receive benefits and if there are fiduciary breaches and a payment of benefits if the plan ends.

ERISA can be a confusing law to some. In certain cases, a worker might not even know that there was the legal requirement for the employer to allow the worker to take part in it. If there is a problem with employee pensions, a denial of benefits or the failure on the part of an employer to adhere to the laws for employee rights through ERISA, speaking to an attorney can help.

Source: dol.gov, “FAQs About Retirement Plans And ERISA — What is ERISA?,” accessed on March 15, 2016


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