ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) is a set of federal laws and regulations that govern welfare benefit plans and qualified retirement plans. Employers must have a written plan document and are required to deliver a summary of it, a Summary Plan Description (SPD), to their participants—regardless of how many employees participate. The SPD is the main vehicle for communicating plan rights to participants.
ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) is a federal law that governs both qualified retirement plans (pension, profit sharing, and 401(k) plans) and welfare benefit plans (e.g., group life, health, dental, and disability insurance plans and other fringe benefit plans). ERISA is enforced primarily by the Department of Labor (DOL). This article deals with the basic compliance requirements for welfare benefit plans only.
Almost every employer and employee benefit plan is subject to ERISA including benefits that are not provided through insurance, such as Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts and Severance Pay Plans. Even voluntary insurance programs may be considered ERISA plans, depending on the extent of an employer’s involvement in the plan. There are very few exceptions to ERISA.