There is no requirement that an employer provide employee benefit plans (except such plans as Workers Compensation). However, once private sector employee retirement and other benefit plans (such as health, disability and death benefits, prepaid legal services, day care centers etc.) are established, most of them are subject to ERISA (The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974).
ERISA sets uniform minimum standards to ensure that employee benefit plans are established and maintained in a fair and financially sound manner. Employers have an obligation to provide promised benefits and satisfy ERISA's requirements for managing and administering private pension and welfare plans.
In addition to other provisions, ERISA mandates that employees be given information about Plan benefits on request.
No one may fire you or otherwise discriminate against you in any way to prevent you from obtaining a benefit or exercising your rights under ERISA.
ERISA does not cover plans established or maintained by government entities or churches for their employees, or plans which are maintained solely to comply with workers' compensation, unemployment, or disability laws.
The Summary Plan Description
ERISA requires that all employees must be given a copy of a Summary Plan Description when they join the plan and at any time upon request. ERISA also specifies what must be included in a Summary.
ERISA describes other information to which you are entitled, including your right to examine and/or get copies of an Annual Financial Statement, changes in the Plan, and a statement describing your rights if you stop working.
Since it's important that the information you have is up-to-date when filing claims, we include a draft of a letter to use to request a copy of the Summary Plan Description. It can also be used to request other documents.
For additional information, see:
- The Summary Plan Description And Other Information To Which You're Entitled
- How To Request A Copy Of The Summary Plan Description And Other Plan Documents
- Enforcement Of Your Right To Information And Copies Of Documents
- ERISA Right Of Appeal
- Additional rights ERISA gives to employees
- ERISA terms to know