Now it’s the workers’ comp and labor attorneys who want to see the employee’s file, your handbook and all of your ERISA Plan documents …
When it comes to ERISA Plan Documents, most employers immediately think, “I better get these in place or risk a DOL audit or fine.” While this thought is not incorrect, a new player is now paying close attention to those ERISA documents, required for your retirement/pension and Health & Welfare plans.
Enter the Attorney
Over the last two years, the HRWS Consulting team has seen a huge uptick (multiple per week) in the number of requests being made for copies of ERISA documents (Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs), Summary of Material Modification (SMM), 5500 filings, etc.)
A Trend on the Rise
Employment and workers compensation attorneys, hired by disgruntled ex and current company employees, are requesting ERISA Plan documents at an alarming rate. And it is NOT because their client had a problem with the company’s ERISA Plan. Rather, these attorneys know that assessed ERISA violation penalties can be huge. For example, fines for not distributing an SPD for a plan can accrue at rates up to $110 per day, per participant, while failure to file a Form 5500 can generate a penalty assessed at up to $2,194 per day.
So What’s the Attorney’s Objective?
Understanding the large penalty dollars involved (if the documents do not exist or procedures have not been followed), the attorney will then explain why it is in the employer’s best interest to “settle with their client,” or otherwise, be reported to the DOL for failure to comply with ERISA guidelines.
What Types of Companies Can This Affect?
The HRWS Consulting team has assisted companies from as small as ten employees through Fortune 500s, across hundreds of industries, by both preparing ERISA documents and helping to answer requests made by the attorney of the former or current employee.
It’s Accident Attorneys, Too
The HRWS team has worked with employers that have been contacted by accident attorneys, even if an employee was hurt off-the-job. These attorneys understand that there are still many employers that have not met their ERISA requirements, and they might be able to use that knowledge to procure additional funds for their client – in theory, to cover things like deductibles, co-insurance or even a lack of paid sick time.
For Current HRWS Insurance Brokers & Clients
Consult with your employee benefits broker and/or financial representative to develop a proactive compliance strategy. HRWS assists brokers and their clients with a multi-tiered program providing live advice from ERISA/ACA experts, customized document preparation and timely distribution – all to ensure that companies are prepared, compliant and worry-free.
HR Workplace Services Inc. partners with the nation’s top insurance brokers and agencies providing their clients with best-in-class services and support for HR concerns, compliance and technology. HRWS operates in all 50 States and in over 25 different countries, serving organizations from three to 200,000 employees in 545 SIC Codes.
If you have questions about HRWS, call or email us directly or ask your insurance broker about us.
The information contained in this article is intended for educational purposes and to provide a general understanding of regulatory events, legislative changes and the law. Not to provide specific legal advice.