The Employee Retirement Income Security Act is one of the major laws protecting employee pension plans, according to FindLaw. This act sets the minimum requirements for participation, such as how long an individual must work before having access to benefits, and the minimum requirements for funding of the plan. If a plan provider terminates a pension plan, The act protects the individuals right to certain benefits through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act requires plan providers to regularly and automatically provide information about the pension plan's features to its participants, states FindLaw. One of the required documents is a summary plan description, which provides information on how the plan operates and what it provides. A summary plan description also provides information on the individual's participation in the plan such as when benefits become vested and when payment begins. A plan provider must also provide a copy of the summary annual report of the plan.
Federal law allows employers to exclude certain groups from the pension plan or to provide different benefits for different groups, explains the United States Department of Labor. For example, an employer may choose not to provide a pension plan for part-time employees, or it may provide different pension plans for union workers and salaried employees. Federal law also requires individuals to start receiving benefits by a certain age, which is typically when the individual turns 70-and-a-half years of age.