What is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)?

Updated on January 8, 2023

  1. OnPay
  2. Payroll Software
  3. Terms and Definitions
  4. Employee Retirement Income Security Act

Employee Retirement Income Security Act definition and meaning

The Employment Retirement Security Act (ERISA) is a federal law that governs the operation of most private benefit and pension plans in the US. It sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established retirement and health plans in private industry, and it creates a set of fiduciary duties that require employers to ensure plans are administered fairly and in the best interest of employees.

More about the Employee Retirement Income Security Act

Signed into federal law by President Gerald Ford on Labor Day, September 2nd, 1974, ERISA established guidelines for the management of pension funds, fair treatment of plan holders, and how participants receive their plan information. ERISA is also responsible for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a federally chartered corporation that guarantees payment of certain benefits to over 33 million Americans.

ERISA generally does not apply to plans established by the government or by a church. It also generally does not pertain to plans intended to comply with coverage requirements for workers’ compensation, unemployment or disability. ERISA also does not cover plans maintained outside the United States primarily for the benefit of nonresident aliens.

Using Employee Retirement Income Security Act in a sentence

“Most good 401(k) providers help their clients stay compliant with Employee Retirement Income Security Act requirements.”

Top-rated payroll


It’s easy to get started

Try OnPay out yourself to see how easy payroll and HR can be. To get started, just share a few basic details about your business. Our team of pros will set everything up and import your employees’ information for you.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.