In the US, Labor Day is a public holiday honoring the contributions of American workers. As such, Labor Day is often the date in which laws protecting employees are signed into effect.

That was the case in 1974, when then-President, Ford signed the landmark Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), into law.

ERISA provides workers with retirement security, something they did not have before.

The abuses that inspired ERISA

Before ERISA, there were no requirements for private industry to follow through with a promised pension. It was not uncommon for the following abuses to occur:

  • Pension termination without notice
  • Retracting a promised pension for insufficient funding
  • Employee eligibility terminated due to unrealistic requirements
  • Terminating an employee on the eve of eligibility

How ERISA has changed the employee rights landscape

Under ERISA, pensions and retirement programs undergo strict monitoring to protect the interests of the beneficiaries. These protections include:

  • Plan sponsors must provide beneficiaries with accurate, and timely information about their plan
  • Plan sponsors and managers must adhere to a strict code of conduct
  • Plan sponsors are required to file an annual report with the Department of Labor

Today, many US workers’ look for jobs that offer competitive retirement benefits. Despite the protections offered under ERISA, some employees’ retirement benefits are jeopardized by factors outside of their control. If that is the case, it is imperative that the beneficiary acts quickly, and consult with an attorney experienced with the niche area of ERISA law.