Are Taft-Hartley plans subject to ERISA?

Yes, they are. ERISA protects employees—including Taft-Hartley members and their beneficiaries—by setting minimum standards and providing guidelines for administering, advising, and managing retirement plans. Most Taft-Hartley plans are covered by ERISA, except for some health and welfare funds and fringe benefit funds.

Advantages of ERISA plans 

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) requires that retirement plans be run solely in the interest of plan participants—and for their benefit exclusively—imposing legal and financial penalties if they aren’t. It outlines the rules that plan fiduciaries must follow—including for Taft-Hartley retirement plans—regarding participation, vesting, dissemination of plan information, and, in the case of pensions, benefit accrual. 

ERISA, along with the Internal Revenue Code, defines which retirement plans can take advantage of certain benefits, such as tax-deferred savings. These plans usually fall into one of two categories, defined benefit plans—such as traditional pension plans—and defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) and profit-sharing plans. Both types of plans can provide valuable benefits to members, as well as to employers.

Understand your Taft-Hartley retirement plan 

First, you should know whether your plan is a pension plan, an annuity plan, or a 401(k) plan.

Second, you should know what benefits your plan offers, what rights members have to those benefits, and what features it makes available to them.  

Last, you should find out who's responsible for decisions about benefits, investments, and plan structure; these responsibilities may be the plan’s fiduciaries. In most cases, the trustees of the plan are the plan fiduciaries, responsible for managing the investments and administering the plan.

How can I learn more?

Start by reviewing your plan documents, which will identify the type of plan and the key features of the plan. Then pose any questions to your plan representatives or the plan’s service providers. Finally, your collective bargaining agreement may also contain important information about your retirement benefits. 

The content of this document is for general information only and is believed to be accurate and reliable as of the posting date, but may be subject to change. John Hancock does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice (unless otherwise indicated). Please consult your own independent advisor as to any investment, tax, or legal statements made herein.


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