Employee Benefit Plans helps students understand what tax-advantaged benefits can be promised and delivered to employees through an employer plan, the statutory and regulatory provisions that must be followed by the employer, the manner and extent to which the federal agencies regulate the delivery of employee benefits, how employees perceive and appreciate these voluntary benefits, and the various public policy issues that permeate every aspect of employee benefits.
Each chapter is divided into two segments: an overview and an analysis of the regulatory framework. Each overview is limited to a few pages, and should be read even if the rest of the chapter is omitted from the course syllabus. The heart of each chapter lies with the regulatory framework segment, but is written in plain English so that even non-attorneys can appreciate how the statutes, regulations, court decisions, and public policy considerations shape the employer’s ability to promise and deliver employee benefits through a plan.
The book begins with a section on preliminary concerns, such as the benefits that can be promised to employees, a review of basic income tax concepts, and a review of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The second section of the book explores all aspects of tax qualified retirement plans, such as the qualification rules, a differentiation of defined benefit and defined contribution plans, how the employer funds and invests plan assets, the vesting and accrual of plan benefits, the limitation on abuses in favor of higher paid employees, how participants and beneficiaries receive their promised benefits, and the regulatory role of the Internal Revenue Service. The third section outlines the labor aspects and employee protections for plans covered under ERISA, including which plans are actually covered by ERISA, the requirements for a written plan document, the fiduciary rules for the management and investment of plan assets, civil causes of action, reporting and disclosure requirements, plan terminations and the regulatory role of the Department of Labor. The fourth section of the book highlights the basics of executive compensation and health and welfare benefit plans, and also summarizes the Social Security system and Individual Retirement Accounts. The final section of the book addresses some of the ethical issues faced in employee benefits practice, includes several essays specifically written for this text book discussing careers and roles as an employee benefits professional, and concludes with a discussion of public policy issues facing an aging population.