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What should New Yorkers know about ERISA and retirement plans?

New York employees should be aware of their employee rights, particularly their right to an Employee Retirement Income Security Act and other retirement plans. Retirement plans assure that workers have something to look forward to when they finally hang up their boots and enjoy the fruits of their hard work.

ERISA is a law that provides retirement plan protection for workers who are in the private sector. ERISA requires plan providers to provide information, including the funding and features of their particular retirement plan, funding information, participation standards, responsibilities for those who control and manage those assets and other essential information. At the same time, ERISA empowers participants to sue if there is any breach of agreement or fiduciary duties. Plans usually indicate how they are paid; however, employers usually pay those fees.

Despite the seemingly wide scope of ERISA, it does have its limitations. Certain acts are considered a violation of ERISA. Parties in interest are not allowed to work with a union, employers, service providers, officers or their own relatives. Other transactions that are prohibited include the lease, sale or exchange of the plan to workers. Credit extension or lending finances are prohibited as well. It is also illegal to trade for services or goods in exchange for getting into the plan.

Other than ERISA, New York workers can also choose their contribution and benefits plans. Examples of such plans include a 401(k), profit sharing plans, employee stock ownership and simplified pension plans. Although retirement plans are essential, they can be confusing to workers. Employees may want to get more information in order to shed light on retirement plans as well as other employee benefits and rights.

Source:, "Frequently Asked Questions About Retirement Plans and ERISA," Accessed on Dec. 16, 2014

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