What is ERISA?
ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) is a federal law which deals with employee benefit plans, both qualified retirement plans (e.g., pension and profit sharing plans) and welfare benefit plans (e.g., group insurance and other fringe benefit plans).
The goals of ERISA are to provide uniformity and protections to employees. ERISA imposes certain reporting (to the DOL) and disclosure (to plan participants) requirements on employers. ERISA compliance is enforced primarily by the Department of Labor (DOL).
However, employee benefit plans may also be regulated by other government agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and a state’s Department of Insurance. Failure to comply with ERISA can result in enforcement actions, penalties, and/or employee lawsuits.