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Prevailing Wage FAQ

We have developed our Resources section as part of an ongoing commitment to improving knowledge and education about state and federal labor compliance rules and regulations for both State Prevailing Wage and Federal Davis-Bacon. We hope you find this information to be useful. And, of course, if you have questions you’d like to see added – don’t hesitate to reach out to our consultants and let us know!

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

The U.S. Department of Labor announced a new paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (effective April 1, 2020). Read the full announcement here:

U.S. Department Of Labor Announces New Paid Sick Leave And Expanded Family and Medical Leave

The U.S. Department of Labor announced new action regarding how American workers and employers benefit from the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, effective April 1, 2020. Both are part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Read the full announcement here:

What guidelines should employers follow in regards to COVID-19?

Employers are expected to use a common-sense approach to determine what’s in the best interest of employees and customers. Employers are strongly recommended to follow the CDC’s current guidance in addition to OSHA, ADA, FMLA, FLSA, anti-discrimination, and privacy laws.

Read more about CDC guidelines here:

Cal/OSHA has also been updated to provide guidelines on protecting workers from exposure to airborne infectious diseases. Download the statement here:

Also, check out Cal/OSHA’s resources online:

Cal/OSHA Guidance on Requirements to Protect Workers from Coronavirus

Cal/OSHA Interim Guidelines for General Industry on 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)


What do employers need to know about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

This act will impact emergency sick leave, emergency family leave, and employer tax credit policies. Find in-depth information about how the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will affect employers here:

Western Health Advantage

Western Health Advantage resources:
Member Resources

Telemedicine resources:
Virtual Visits


UnitedHealthcare resources:
Member Resources
Member FAQ
Member FAQ PDF

Telemedicine resources:
Virtual Visits Flyer
Heal Flyer

Sutter Health Plus

Sutter Health Plus resources:
Member Resources

Telemedicine resources:
Video Visits

Sharp Health Plan

Sharp Health Plan resources:
Member Resources
Member FAQ

Telemedicine resources:
Video and Phone Visits

Oscar Health

Oscar Health resources:
Member Resource Center
Member FAQ

Telemedicine resources:
Doctor on Call

Health Net

Health Net resources:
Member Resources

Telemedicine resources:
Teladoc Flyer
Teladoc FAQ
Heal Flyer

Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield of California resources:
Member Resources
(See the banner at the top of the page)

Telemedicine resources:
Teladoc Flyer
Teladoc Flyer (Trio HMO)
Heal Flyer

Does California’s EDD have postings on Supplemental Unemployment Benefits?

California EDD has a posting on Total Partial Unemployment titled, TPU 460.62. This posting details the perspective of the EDD on Supplemental Unemployment Benefits.

Does California define Supplemental Unemployment Benefits as Wages?

Supplemental Unemployment Benefits are specifically addressed in the California labor code section 1265, “Notwithstanding any other provisions of this division, payments to an individual under a (supplemental unemployment benefits) plan or system established by an employer which makes provisions for his employees generally, or for a class or group of employees, for the purpose of supplementing unemployment compensation benefits shall not be construed to be wages or compensation for personal services under this division and benefits payable under this division shall not be denied or reduced because of the receipt of payments under such arrangements or plans.”

Are Supplemental Unemploymental Benefit Plans a lot of work?

They don’t have to be. Employees receive their fringe money directly from the SUB Trust’s third party administrator, not the employer. In addition, both federal tax with-holdings and W-2s are handled by the third party administrator, as well as, required IRS 5500 filings.

Are Supplemental Unemployment plans Bona Fide for Prevailing Wage?

It depends on the plan! If you’re considering a Supplemental Unemployment Benefit plan, you’ll want to verify that it has been approved by the US Department of Labor and the IRS. In addition, some states have asserted jurisdiction over SUB plans, so you’ll want to be assured that the plan has been reviewed by the state where your business is located. The plan that we use, sponsored by the National Association of Prevailing Wage Contractors, meets those criteria.

How long have Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Plans been around?

SUB Plans have been around since the mid 1950’s when the unions such as the United Auto Workers Union were concerned with seasonal and permanent layoffs and unemployment benefits were not substantial enough to support an under-worked worker.

What are Supplemental Unemployment Benefits?

Supplemental Unemployment Benefits Plans (SUB Plans) are a tax exempt, Section 501 (c) (17) plan or trust established to provide severance pay to workers who are under-worked or laid off due to a reduction in force. It can be used to supplement state unemployment insurance benefits

I am not purchasing insurance coverage through SHOP. Will I be able to keep my plan?

The market rules apply both inside and outside the Exchange, so it is unlikely that most small employers will be able to keep their current insurance plan without any changes.

As a small employer, are my employees eligible for federal health care premium tax credits if I offer them health insurance coverage?

No, unless the employee’s share of the premium is more than 9.5% of their household income.

In 2014 are all small employers eligible for the federal small business tax credits?

Possibly. The following requirements must be met for an employer to qualify for the federal small business tax credits: (1) the employer must have fewer than 25 fulltime employees, (2) the average annual wages of employees must be less than $50,000, and (3) the employer must pay at least half of the insurance premiums. In 2014 the tax credit will increase from a maximum of 35% to a maximum of 50% and only be available to small employers purchasing health insurance through SHOP.

As a small employer, if I do not offer my employees health insurance coverage, will my employees be better off?

That may or may not be the case. Many variables must be considered, such as your employees’ out-of-pocket expenses under the plan you offer, their personal circumstances, premiums of the individual plans available in 2014, etc. In some cases, the amount the employee pays for the coverage you offer will be less expensive than the cost of coverage for the employee if he or she purchases coverage through the Exchange, even with premium tax credits.

Under ACA, are small employers required to offer health insurance to their employees?

There is nothing in the federal regulations that says an employer must provide coverage to their employees. Employers, again with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees, who do not offer their employees’ health insurance coverage could face a penalty of $2,000 per employee (but the employer can exempt the first 30 employees). If an employer offers coverage but it is not affordable (the health insurance costs the employee more than 9.5% of the employee’s income for self-only coverage), employers may face a penalty of $3,000 for each employee accessing subsidized coverage through the Exchange. The total penalty for not offering affordable coverage cannot exceed the penalty for not offering insurance coverage at all. Therefore, small employers with less than 50 FTEs would be exempt from this provision of the law.

What are the major ObamaCare changes I need to know about?

There are a number of major changes for comprehensive health insurance plans effective January 1, 2014. These include the following:

Insurers must sell a health insurance policy to any person who applies for coverage, except in cases where fraudulent information is provided by the applicant.

Insurers are prohibited from excluding or limiting coverage for a preexisting condition.

Plans will be required to offer “essential health benefits.”

Plans in the small group and individual market will be categorized into one of four different metal tiers. Consumers will know the level of coverage expected by a plan based on the metal tier assigned to it. The percentages attached to each metal tier represent the average portion of expected costs a plan will cover for the average individual. Plans with a higher percentage of coverage will have more expensive premiums. The metal tiers include:

Bronze plans covering 60%;

Silver plans covering 70%;

Gold plans covering 80%; and

Platinum plans covering 90%.

Plans in all markets (individual, small group, and large group) will be required to limit in-network out-of-pocket expenses to $6,250 for self-only coverage.

Plans in the small group market cannot have deductibles that exceed $2,000 for individual coverage or $4,000 for family coverage.

With ObamaCare, which employers are not subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions?

Employers who employ fewer than 50 full-time employees (or the equivalent combination of full-time and part-time employees) are not subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions. An employer with at least 50 full-time employees (or equivalents) will not be subject to an Employer Shared Responsibility payment if the employer offers affordable health coverage that provides a minimum level of coverage to its full-time employees.

Who is eligible for Small Business Health Care Tax Credits under PPACA?

A small employer is eligible for the credit if it has fewer than 25 full-time employees or a combination of full-time and part-time (for example, two half-time employees equal one employee for purposes of the credit); the average annual wages of employees must be less than $50,000 (adjusted for inflation beginning in 2014), and the employer must pay a uniform percentage for all employees that is equal to at least 50% of the premium cost of the insurance coverage. For tax years beginning in 2014 and forward, the employer must contribute toward premiums on behalf of each employee enrolled in a qualified health plan (QHP) offered by the eligible small employer through a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP Exchange) established as part of the Affordable Care Act to qualify for the credit.

What would cause a health plan to lose grandfathered status under the ACA?

The following actions would result in loss of grandfathered status: Change in insurance carrier, policy, certificate or contact, if the change occurred between September 23, 2010 and November 16, 2010 as long as the benefits provided by the new carrier continue to satisfy grandfathering requirements; Elimination of all benefits to diagnose or treat a particular condition; Any increase in coinsurance; Increase in deductibles or copayments subject to the cost-adjustment test established by the reform law; A decrease in employer contribution of more than 5 percent.

What are the Affordable Care Act Employer shared responsibility Provisions?

Starting in 2014, employers employing at least a certain number of employees (generally 50 full-time employees and full-time equivalents, explained more fully below) will be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions under section 4980H of the Internal Revenue Code (added to the Code by the Affordable Care Act). Under these provisions, if these employers do not offer affordable health coverage that provides a minimum level of coverage to their full-time employees, they may be subject to an Employer Shared Responsibility payment if at least one of their full-time employees receives a premium tax credit for purchasing individual coverage on one of the new Affordable Insurance Exchanges.

To be subject to these Employer Shared Responsibility provisions, an employer must have at least 50 full-time employees or a combination of full-time and part-time employees that is equivalent to at least 50 full-time employees (for example, 100 half-time employees equals 50 full-time employees). As defined by the statute, a full-time employee is an individual employed on average at least 30 hours per week (so half-time would be 15 hours per week).

If an employer-provided insurance does not include dependent or spouse coverage, can my spouse and dependents(s) qualify for coverage in the individual Exchange?

Under the new insurance rules that take effect in 2014, employees and their family members who do not have coverage through an employer will be able to buy insurance through Covered California’s individual exchange. Depending on income level, family members might also qualify for subsidized coverage or no-cost coverage through Medi- Cal.

To what age can you offer dependent coverage?

Implemented in 2010, the provision of the ACA states, A group health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage that provides coverage of children shall continue to make such coverage available for an adult child until the child turns 26 years of age.

Are unfunded self-insured fringe benefit plans “bona fide”?

Per the Department of Labor website: “Unfunded, self-insured fringe benefit plans (other than fringe benefits such as vacations and holidays which by their nature are normally unfunded) under which prevailing wage contractors allegedly make “out of pocket” payments to provide benefits as expenses may arise, rather than making irrevocable contributions to a trust or other funded arrangement as required under Sec. 4.171(a)(4), are not normally considered “bona fide” plans or equivalent benefits for purposes of the Davis-Bacon Act”

Do travel perks count as a “bona fide” benefit?

Believe it or not, the Department of Labor does address this question – and the answer is no. The fringe benefit portion of the prevailing wage rate determination must go into a “bona fide” benefit, and travel perks do not count.

How do the terms of an employee benefits plan need to be communicated?

One of the provisions specified by the Department of Labor (and applicable to all prevailing wage contractors) is that “the provisions of a plan, fund, or program adopted by the contractor, or by the contract as a result of collective bargaining, must be specified in writing, and must be communicated in writing to the affected employees.”

If my employee contributes to the employee benefits, are they still “bona fide”?

Yes!”Bona fide” benefits, including those for prevailing wage, may be either contractor-financed or a joint contractor-employee contributory plan. 

Are contributions to a “bona fide” employee benefit plan mandatory?

Participation can be mandatory so long as prevailing wage fringe money is enough to cover the cost. In the event that the cost of the benefit is higher than the amount of fringe money available; at that point, employee participation becomes voluntary.

What if my plan isn’t “bona fide”?

Regardless of whether you are doing federal davis-bacon prevailing wage, or state prevailing wage, failure to provide employees “bona fide” fringe benefits can have significant economic consequences for you in the form of fines; and, in dire cases, sanctioning. 

Do prevailing wages also need to be “bona fide”?

No. The term “bona fide” does not refer to the cash (or wage) component of the prevailing wage rate determination

Can I control my own plan and still have it be “bona fide”?

It depends. To know for certain, you should seek competent legal advice.

Does “bona fide” really matter that much?

Yes! Failure to provide “bona fide” benefits can result in compliance issues with a variety of Federal and State Agencies. 

How do I know if my plan is “bona fide”

If your benefits plan does not meet the requirements per the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, then there is a possibility that it may not meet the standards of being “bona fide.” If you are uncertain whether your plan is “bona fide”, you should seek the advice of competent legal counsel.

What does “bona fide” mean?

A key to reducing fraud and safeguarding employees, the term “bona fide” appears quite often in the Davis Bacon Act, with respect to fringe benefits. In order for Davis-Bacon benefits plans to be considered “bona fide”, they must be under the operation of an independent, third party administrator who is beyond the control of the employer AND subject to the scrutiny of the Department of Labor.

What does an “exemption from the Annualization rule” mean?

It allows a prevailing wage contractor to make contributions only when the employee is working on prevailing wage projects and there is fringe money to be used in making the contribution.  

Do all benefits have to be Annualized?

No. If the plan has received an “exemption” from annualization, such as a defined contribution plan, the contributions do not have to be annualized. 

Why are benefits Annualized

An annualized cost creates fairness in allocating expense between public and private work, as an equal expense is created on an hourly basis regardless of whether an employee is working on public or private work.

How are benefits Annualized?

An example of public money not subsidizing private benefits is with health insurance, a benefit that has a fixed cost. Because employees derive the benefit 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and not just when they are working prevailing wage, the benefit is “annualized” in its payment mechanism.

Multiply the monthly premium by 12 months to arrive at an annual cost.  This amount is then divided by the number of available standard work hours in a year.  (2080 is the commonly accepted number of standard annual work hours based upon 40 hours per week times 52 weeks, as long as the employee does not work overtime). 

The resulting hourly cost is the amount that a prevailing wage contractor can use when taking credit on his certified payroll reports.  

What is Annualization?

At the federal level and in many states, California included, annualization means public money shall not be used to subsidize a private work benefit.  In the other meaning, used in some states, it simply means that contributions to employee benefit plans shall be made on an all hours basis, with no exceptions.

Can I use an Hour Bank for my company?

While any prevailing wage contractor can realize the benefits of an Hour Bank, they are particularly useful for employers who fall into both of two categories: 

  1. Most, if not all, construction work is prevailing wage.
  2. Your prevailing wage company experiences seasonal down time.


Can you give me an example of how Hour Banks work?

With a 130 Hour Bank, an employee is required to work 130 hours per month in order to fully fund their benefits contributions. In the event that the employee works 160 hours in a month, the 30 additional hours would be credited to their Hour Bank. If that employee continued to work 160 hours per month, after 4.5 months, they would have accumulated enough banked fringe money to cover the cost of 1 month’s benefit premiums.

If that employee were to be laid-off after 4.5 months, they would be able to pay their full benefits contribution from their Hour Bank for an additional month without any out-of-pocket cost.

How do Hour Banks work?

Simply defined, an Hour Bank is an over-charge of monthly benefits premiums. By creating a surplus reserve of premium payments, the employee can use their Hour Bank to cover the cost of benefits when they are not working.

By calculating  fringe contributions in this manner, as opposed to a straight monthly premium, employees can easily see the status of their benefits contribution funding based upon the number of hours per month (i.e. 130, 140 or 150) they have worked.  

By limiting payments for medical benefits to periods when an employee is working, Hour Banks can reduce employee benefit costs.

What is an Hour Bank?

Hour banks are a means of converting an employer’s fixed monthly costs for fringe benefits into an hourly cost.

Are there penalties for false certified payroll reports?

Falsification of certified payroll records or the required kickback of wages may subject a contractor or subcontractor to civil or criminal prosecution, the penalty for which may be fines and/or imprisonment.

Do I have to include Fringe benefit payments on my certified payroll reports?

Yes, if you are paying your fringe benefits in cash, then you must show the actual base rate of pay, PLUS the Fringe Benefit rate per hour, that is paid directly to the employee. 

For federal Davis-Bacon projects, however, if you pay all required fringe benefits defined by the wage decision to an approved plan (such as an ERISA Trust), then you only need to show the base rate of pay for Straight Time and Overtime.

For California prevailing wage work you are required to report gross contributions to fringe benefit plans on the certified payroll report. This is to be done for each plan for which the employee is enrolled.  This amount is reflected in Box 8 of the A-1-131 form.

Is the certified payroll form WH-347 sufficient for an audit by DOL?

While form WH-347 is legally sufficient for an audit by the DOL, many contractors find it beneficial to use California’s form A1-131 for their certified payroll reports even when working on federal projects because California’s form includes the weekly payments for fringe benefits – information which will be necessary in the event of a DOL Wage and Hour Division audit. 

What information is required for the Certified Payroll Report?

The requirements differ depending upon whether the work being performed is for Federal and/or State prevailing wage.

Do I have to do a certified payroll report even when there’s a break in my project?

Yes, contractors are required to submit weekly, certified payroll reports even when there is a temporary break in work on the project.  Either the certified payroll shall be annotated as “No Work” for that week or a Non-Performance Statement must be submitted.

How often are certified payroll reports produced?

Contractors are required to prepare their certified payroll report on a weekly-basis, beginning the first week that their company begins work on the prevailing wage project and continuing until project completion. Specific submission requirements for your certified payroll report differ depending upon the State and/or Federal regulations governing the job.

What is a certified payroll report?

In order to insure that contractors working on federal or State funded projects are paying their employees accurately for work performed, all contractors who perform work on prevailing wage projects must furnish copies of certified payroll reports to the contracting agency. These certified payroll reports insure that the payroll records of the prime contractor, as well as those of its subcontractors, accurately reflect the hours worked, rate of pay (for both base rate and fringe benefits) and classification of work performed.

What is HIPAA and will the ERISA Trust insure compliance?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provides rights and protections for participants and beneficiaries participating in group health plans.

Included within HIPAA are protections which: limit exclusions for preexisting conditions; prohibit discrimination against employees and dependents; and, allow special opportunities for enrollment. HIPAA may also give employees a right to purchase individual coverage in the event that they have exhausted their COBRA eligibility and have no access to a group health plan.

One of the most important protections under HIPAA is that it helps those with preexisting conditions get health coverage. In the past, some health plans limited, or even denied, coverage if a new employee had such a condition before enrolling in the plan. Under HIPAA, that is not allowed. 

As the administrator for trust member’s health benefits, the ERISA Trust will insure compliance with both Federal and State laws.


What are my COBRA responsibilities if I’m managing my own benefits?

It all depends. If you are an over-20 company, then Federal rules currently govern your obligations. However, if you are an under-20 company, there may be separate rules which govern your responsibilities depending upon what State you are based in. For example, an under-20 company based in California is currently subject to CalCobra. When in doubt, we urge you consult qualified legal counsel to determine what COBRA responsibilities your company has.

Can the ERISA Trust manage COBRA compliance?

For companies participating in an ERISA Trust, the Trust Administrators maintain compliance by insuring that employee health benefits continue under COBRA in situations such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events.  

How is COBRA related to ERISA

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is, in fact, an amendment to ERISA. COBRA gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances. 

What if I manage my own employee benefits, are there Government resources to help me maintain compliance?

If you choose to provide your own benefits to employees, the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) provides many forms of compliance assistance, including: voluntary compliance programs; advisory opinions; and, relevant publications.

You might also reference EBSA’s Compliance Assistance Web page for a compilation which includes information specifically developed to assist and inform employers and employee benefit plan practitioners in understanding and complying with the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

Employers and plan practitioners may also benefit by reviewing some of the more general materials available to the public at EBSA’s Consumer Information on Health Plans Web page.

If you are participating in an ERISA Trust, then the Trust takes responsibility for maintaining compliance on your company’s behalf.


Will I have to create the Summary Annual Report?

The plan administrator is required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to provide participants with a copy of the plan’s, ‘summary annual report’. Upon behalf of its member companies, the ERISA Trust prepares a summary of the annual financial report, the Form 5500, that most plans are required to file with the Department of Labor.  

Will the ERISA Trust provide employees with the Summary of Plan document?

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires employers to give plan participants (employees) a summary of their plan, called the summary plan description or SPD. Provided for plan participants by the ERISA Trust Administrators, the SPD details for participants what the plan provides as well as how it operates. Additionally, the SPD provides additional critical information, including: when an employee can begin participating in the plan; how service and benefits are calculated; when benefits become vested and are paid; and, how to file a claim for benefits. In the event that a plan is changed, participants must be informed of those changes by the ERISA Trust Administrators.

Are Participant Rights different for ERISA Trusts?

Any Employee participating in a Health & Welfare plan is granted several important rights by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The Administrators of the ERISA Trust take responsibility for fulfilling these obligations on behalf of the Trust’s employer-members. These responsibilities include: disclosure of important plan information, a timely and fair process for benefit claims, elect to temporarily continue group health coverage after losing coverage, a certificate evidencing health coverage under a plan, and recover benefits due under the plan.

What are the advantages / disadvantages of being named as an ERISA Trust fiduciary?

As a Trustee, you retain certain legal rights and obligations to the Trust. The Advantage of these responsibilities is that they can enable the company, as the Trustee, to have greater direct control over plan assets. The disadvantage is that greater control over Trust assets comes with legal responsibility, and potential liability, in the event of a claim against the Trust.

Will I have fiduciary responsibility for my ERISA Trust?

The ERISA Trust will require a Trustee to be identified in the plan. If an individual or officer of your company is named anywhere in the Trust documents, then you retain fiduciary responsibility.

What Fiduciary responsibilities does an ERISA Trust have?

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) protects a plan’s assets by requiring that any persons or entities who have discretionary authority or responsibility, or provide investment advice or guidance, are subject to fiduciary responsibilities. Plan fiduciaries include, for example, plan trustees, plan administrators, and members of a plan’s investment committee.

In the case of an ERISA Trust, Fiduciaries are obligated to run the plan solely in the interest of participants and beneficiaries and for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits and paying plan expenses. In addition, they must follow the terms of plan documents to the extent that the plan terms are consistent with ERISA.

Trust Fiduciaries must also act prudently and must diversify the plan’s investments in order to minimize the risk of large losses. They also must prevent conflicts of interest, avoiding transactions on behalf of the plan that benefit parties related to the plan, such as other fiduciaries, services providers, or the plan sponsor.

Why would prevailing wage contractors use an ERISA Trust?

ERISA Trusts are a solution many prevailing wage contractors use to simplify compliance with provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act and Service Contract Act, requiring employers to provide ‘bona fide’ health and welfare benefits to public works employees, and ERISA’s health, welfare and pension mandates. Because some employers find compliance costs to be onerous and costly, they join Trusts which take-over responsibility for providing benefits on the employer’s behalf.

What is an ERISA Trust used for?

An is a legal entity that is created to administer health and welfare benefits on behalf of a Trust’s member companies. As a result, when a prevailing wage contractor joins an ERISA Trust, the Trust takes-on all responsibilities and costs for maintaining the benefits of that contractor’s employees. The Trust’s responsibilities also include maintaining compliance with Department of Labor regulations

Do benefits have to be in an ERISA Trust to be “bona fide”?

There is no clear answer to this question. In common practice, Direct-to-Carrier benefits are accepted by both Federal and State entities in spite of the fact that there is no “bona fide” entity providing benefits. It is best to consult qualified legal counsel if you are uncertain whether your plan is “bona fide” for prevailing wage benefits.

Why a ‘bona-fide’ ERISA Trust matters

Because, as a “bona fide” trust, its administrators are subject to approval and audit, at least annually, by the Department of Labor.  

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA)

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established health and welfare plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans.

ERISA requires plans to provide participants with plan information including important information about plan features and funding; provides fiduciary responsibilities for those who manage and control plan assets; requires plans to establish a grievance and appeals process for participants to get benefits from their plans; and, gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty.

The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is responsible for administering and enforcing these provisions of ERISA. Click on the agency to find out more about the agency’s program. As part of carrying out its responsibilities, the agency provides consumer information on health and welfare plans as well as compliance assistance for employers, plan service providers, and others to help them comply with ERISA