Employee Retirement Income Security Act: Establishes uniform minimum standards for employee benefit and retirement plans. ERISA protects plan participants and beneficiaries by ensuring sound management of the plans. While private employers are not required to offer retirement or health and welfare plans, if these plans are in place, ERISA as well as IRS rules apply, and they must be followed in order for the plans to receive certain tax advantages. However as often is the case, rules governing private employers do not apply to most public sector employers.
ERISA enforcement and jurisdictional issues are split between the DOL; the IRS; and the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, or PBGC. The DOL has enforcement responsibility for ERISA reporting, disclosure rules, and fiduciary responsibility. IRS jurisdiction covers tax-related benefit plan issues such as funding requirements and plan eligibility. And the PBGC acts as an insurance plan, PBGC guarantees are triggered if a private sector defined benefit plan, a pension plan, does not have enough to pay the benefits committed to the participants.