There are two ERISA requirements that, for the most part,employers are just not meeting.

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That's the word from 71 percent of brokers who say their clientsaren't maintaining plan documents or providing employees withsummary plan documents—two major requirements under ERISA,according to an HR360 survey.

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Why? Brokers identified four main reasons: Their clientsmistakenly thought they were compliant by distributing benefitsbooklets/summaries; they were not aware of the ERISA requirements;it was too difficult and time-consuming to develop the documents;and it was too expensive to do so.

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The problem, HR360 says, is that many companies mistakenlyassume that insurance contracts, certificates of insurance andbenefits summaries fulfill the ERISA requirements for an SPD andPlan Document—but they don't include the required or recommendedprovisions that protect the plan and the employer.

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And that can be a costly mistake.

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Failure to provide an SPD or plan document within 30 days ofreceiving a request from a plan participant or beneficiary canresult in a penalty of up to $110 per day per participant orbeneficiary for each violation.

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Plus, a lack of an SPD could trigger a plan audit by the U.S.Department of Labor.

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HR360 also noted that the DOL has increased its audit staff andthat companies, small and large, are being audited.

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The survey reveals that brokers can better position themselvesas an advisor to their clients by helping them maintain compliancewith these ERISA requirements.

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