Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tip of the Day: Put it in writing

As financial and litigation fears both have employers on edge, an EBN report this month offers employers three letters to help protect themselves when making benefits changes/reductions: S, P, D.

Benefit analysts urge employers to become strict adherents to ERISA rules on summary plan descriptions and summaries of material modifications, because the practice will not only help them to avoid costly litigation, but also broaden their opportunities to better educate workers about their benefits.

Putting any changes -- no matter how small -- in writing is key because "at the end of day, the issue as to whether the modification was material will get resolved in a courtroom where a plan participant says, 'No one told me that the company changed X benefit,'" obxerves Robert Fisher, a partner at Foley Hoag, LLP, a law firm based in Boston.

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