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Employment Law

Pensions And Other Employee Benefits

The federal government regulates employee benefit plans under the EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT INCOME SECURITY ACT (ERISA), 29 U.S.C.A. § 1001 et seq., passed in 1974. Title I of the act (29 U.S.C.A. § 1011 et seq.) provides rules with respect to participation, vesting and funding of benefits plans, fiduciary responsibility, reporting and disclosure, and administration and enforcement. Title II contains tax law provisions as amendments to the INTERNAL REVENUE CODE of 1954 (26 U.S.C.A. § 401 et seq.). Title III concerns jurisdiction, administration, and enforcement (29 U.S.C.A. § 1201 et seq.). Title IV creates the PENSION Benefit Guaranty Corporation and establishes a system of employee-plan-termination insurance (29 U.S.C.A. § 1301 et seq.).

ERISA does not require an employer to provide employee-benefit plans. However, if an employer sets up a qualified plan (i.e., one that meets ERISA's standards), the employer may take a tax deduction for the employer's contribution. The employer also may deduct the full amount of an employee group-health plan that meets tax code standards.

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FAMLA) (29 U.S.C.A. § 2601 et seq.) establishes the right of employees to take unpaid leave for family reasons. FAMLA applies to employers of 50 persons or more. It entitles an employee to take up to 12 weeks of leave during a 12-month period because of the birth of a child to the employee, the placement of a child with the employee for ADOPTION or foster care, the serious health condition of a family member of the employee, or the employee's own serious health condition.

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