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What is ERISA?

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If you work for a business in California that offers a company-sponsored retirement plan as part of its employee benefits package, you should know that there are laws governing these plans. The United States Department of Labor indicates that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 was set up to protect the assets you put into your company's retirement plan.

While a 401(k) may be the most commonly known type of retirement account for employees, this is not the only type of plan that you may have the option to participate in. Other retirement plansinclude defined contribution plans, defined benefits plans, simplified employee retirement plans, profit sharing plans and even employee stock ownership plans. ERISA outlines the guidelines that indicate when you may become eligible for participation in such plans. It will also stipulate any other requirements you must meet in order to be able to sign up for these plans.

Also part of what ERISA governs is any death benefits that may be payable to your spouse and whether or not you can take time away from your job without your retirement account being impacted. If you are able to take time away, ERISA will dictate how much time you can take. ERISA does not cover all types of retirement accounts but does have governance over minimum standards for retirement accounts in private industries.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is intended to provide California residents an overview of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.

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