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

What help is available for employers
who make mistakes in operating a plan?

EBSA has two voluntary self-correction programs for plan administrators who need help in meeting ERISA requirements.

The Department of Laborís Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP) encourages employers to comply with ERISA by voluntarily self-correcting certain violations. The program covers 19 transactions, including failure to timely remit participant contributions and some prohibited transactions with parties-in-interest. The program includes a description of how to apply, as well as acceptable methods for correcting violations. In addition, the Department gives applicants immediate relief from payment of excise taxes under a class exemption. The following are resources available on the VFCP:

In addition, the Departmentís Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program (DFVCP) assists late or non-filers of the Form 5500 in coming up to date with corrected filings.

Resources on the DFVCP include:

Is there a program to help if an employer has abandoned an individual account pension plan?

Significant business events, such as bankruptcies, mergers, acquisitions, and other similar transactions affecting the status of an employer, too often result in employers, particularly small employers, abandoning their individual account pension plans (e.g., 401(k) plans). When this happens, custodians such as banks, insurers, mutual fund companies, etc. are left holding the assets of these abandoned plans but do not have the authority to terminate such plans and make benefit distributions Ė even in response to participant demands. In these situations, participants and beneficiaries have great difficulty accessing the benefits they have earned.

In response, the Labor Departmentís Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has developed rules to facilitate a voluntary, safe and efficient process for winding up the affairs of abandoned individual account plans so that benefit distributions are made to participants and beneficiaries. Information about the program is available at EBSA's Web Site under the Abandoned Plan Program.

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