Wednesday, January 22, 2014

ERISA/Employee Benefits Legal Compliance Checklist

We've developed an ERISA and employee benefits legal compliance checklist to help you assess your benefits program and structure. Please take a few minutes for this important due diligence check. 

If you have any questions about the checklist and your answers, please contact me or your primary law firm contact. Even one poorly answered question could be very problematic, with significant cost and liability implications. Make sure that 2014 starts with your benefits in full legal compliance.   

Welfare Benefit Plans:
  1. Do you have an ERISA-compliant plan document?
  2. Do you have an ERISA-compliant summary plan description?
  3. To the extent that the plans are self-insured, are they in writing?
  4. Has consideration been given to the Medicare Part D requirements regarding required notification for prescription drugs and potential federal subsidies?
  5. To the extent that there are more than 100 eligible employees participating in the plan, have Forms 5500 been filed annually and timely?
  6. If you maintain a 125, flexible spending account, dependent care assistance or other cafeteria plan, is it in writing? When was it last updated? 
  7. When were your COBRA notices last updated? Are such notices distributed timely and in compliance with the law?
  8. Are your health plan documents, open enrollment forms and premium conversation documents updated to comply with the Health Care Reform rules?
Tax Qualified Plans: 
  1. Has the plan document been amended for all the new tax and ERISA rules and requirements? 
  2. When must your plan be filed for a favorable determination letter under the IRS' cycle requirements?
  3. Has the plan received a favorable determination letter and/or does the employer have a copy of the opinion or a notification letter in the case of prototype plans?
  4. Does the summary plan description accurately reflect the terms of the plan?
  5. If there are more than 100 employees participating in the plan, does the Form 5500 contain the required audited financial statements?
  6. Are employer contributions made timely and in accordance with the terms of the plan, and are employee elective deferral contributions (e.g. 401(k) and 403(b) contributions) made as soon as administratively practicable as required by law?
  7. Are all nondiscrimination tests accurately performed, including controlled group testing?
  8. How is the investment asset mix determined, modified, monitored and re-balanced? 
  9. Who is rendering appropriate investment advice and is this entity a fiduciary? 
  10. Has it acknowledged its fiduciary status in writing?
  11. What are all the direct and indirect fees being paid from plan assets, including, but not limited to, revenue sharing? 
  12. Has a reasonableness analysis been undertaken to determine if the plan is getting good value for the services it is paying for?
  13. When was the last time an RFP was done vis-à-vis plan administration, investment, accounting and recordkeeping?
  14. Are the plan and all fiduciaries appropriately bonded? 
  15. Do the fiduciaries have liability insurance? 
  16. Does the plan sponsor indemnify its fiduciary-employees and Board members?
  17. Are you aware of and in compliance with all of the new fee disclosure requirements (under ERISA Section 408(b)(2) and 404(a)(5)) that became effective at the end of 2012?
Employee Plan Issues in General:
  1. Do you have an employee handbook? 
  2. When was your employee handbook last updated?
  3. Are your leave of absence policies in writing and distributed (e.g., maternity/paternity, military leave, and other leaves of absence)?
  4. What policies and procedures do you have in place with respect to same-sex spouses and domestic partners? 
  5. Do you understand and are you complying with the tax ramifications concerning same sex and domestic partner benefit coverage?