How Does an ESOP Work?

An employee stock ownership plan, commonly known as an ESOP, is a retirement plan that is somewhat similar to a 401(k). However, an ESOP is usually company-funded with stock from the employer. Although ESOPs have been in use for years, misconceptions exist as to how an ESOP works. Forming an ESOP The employer company sets the ESOP in motion by creating an employee stock ownership trust (ESOT), which is sometimes Read More

The Employee Benefits Security Administration’s Role in ERISA Compliance

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is just one of the divisions operating under the United States Department of Labor. The EBSA’s mission, as stated on its website, is: “to assure the security of the retirement, health and other workplace related benefits of America’s workers and their families. We will accomplish this mission by developing effective regulations; assisting and educating workers, Read More

Are You Meeting ERISA Deadlines?

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) sets minimum standards for many private industry pension and health plans. ERISA regulations also set deadlines for the submission of many reports and forms. Since penalties for ERISA compliance violations can be severe, it’s important to know whether your retirement plans are meeting ERISA deadlines. First, we can look at the types of deadlines that Read More

Three Reasons to Offer an ESOP to Your Employees

As the employment landscape changes, employers may search for benefit options that provide value to their employees and their business. One possibility that is sometimes overlooked is the employee stock ownership plan or ESOP. Similar to a profit sharing plan, an ESOP invests in the stock of the employer thereby creating a situation where the employer and employees share ownership of the business. Since ESOPs offer Read More

How to Defend an ERISA Lawsuit

People often say we live in a litigious society. Even employee benefit plans are not immune to lawsuit-happy plaintiffs. Plan administrators who are sued may be relieved to learn there are ways to defend an ERISA lawsuit. Motions to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment A defendant typically begins by assessing the claims contained in the lawsuit, then begins the process of defending against those claims. One of the Read More

IRS Updates Retirement Plan Limits

One of the most common compliance issues for employers and plan sponsors is failure to adhere to annual retirement plan limits. To avoid costly penalties and administratively burdensome correction procedures, plan sponsors must remain up-to-date with respect to applicable retirement plan limits. Today, November 1, 2018, the IRS announced cost-of-living adjustments affecting the 2019 dollar limitations for retirement Read More

Business Associates and Business Associate Contracts

An HR Director recently asked me (i) how to determine if an entity is a business associate and (ii) what terms should be included in a business associate agreement? Who is a Business Associate? Generally, a business associate is a person who, on behalf of a health plan, and in a capacity other than as part of the covered entity’s workforce: performs or assists in performing a function or activity involving the Read More

Frequency of HIPAA Privacy Training

I was recently asked how often an employer is required to provide HIPAA privacy training to employees. It does not appear that the regulations specify a certain training frequency or content. Instead, the regulations generally state that a "covered entity" train all members of it's workforce on the covered entity's privacy policies and procedures, as necessary and appropriate for the members of the workforce to Read More