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elaws - employment laws assistance for workers and small businesses - ERISA Fiduciary Advisor

Introduction

Offering a retirement plan can be both rewarding and challenging for an employer. The employees participating in the plan, their beneficiaries, and the employer all benefit from a retirement plan.  By deciding to offer the plan, the employer also takes on certain responsibilities and requirements in administering the plan and managing its assets. 

Fiduciaries are those individuals and/or entities who manage an employee benefit plan and its assets.  Employers often hire outside professionals, sometimes called third-party service providers, or use an internal administrative committee or human resources department to manage some or all of a planís day-to-day operations. Employers who have hired outside professionals or who use internal committees/resources still have fiduciary responsibilities.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is the federal law that sets standards of conduct for fiduciaries. This Advisor is designed to provide an overview of the basic fiduciary responsibilities applicable to retirement plans under the law. While employees are welcome to review the information in this Advisor, the intended audience is employers and third party service providers, such as accountants, attorneys, third party administrators, and others directly involved in the plan.  Additional information for employees is listed in the Resource section.

We recommend that you review all sections of this Advisor in order to get a better understanding of fiduciary responsibilities.

Disclaimer:  This Advisor provides a simplified explanation of the law and regulations regarding the scope of ERISAís fiduciary responsibility requirements for private-sector retirement plans. It is not a legal interpretation of ERISA, nor is it intended to be a substitute for the advice of a retirement plan professional.

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