Employers in the Washington, D.C., area operate in one of the nation's most competitive job markets. Attracting qualified candidates will usually require offering a comprehensive benefits package as well as an attractive salary. Many of the benefits offered by employers must comply with standards outlined in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, but companies also consider industry standards and their current and future financial obligations when deciding what to offer their employees. This means that employment contracts are often complex documents that can be difficult to understand.
Employee benefit plans sponsored by employers should, ideally, reward and motivate employees while complying with ERISA. As an employee you will be entitled to receive certain plan documents upon becoming eligible to participate in the sponsored plans. When negotiating your employment contract, make sure you have your employer add those eligibility dates in your agreement so that you know when to expect your plan documents. Also ask that you employment contract detail who is the appropriate contact regarding your employee benefits and reflect any intranet sites where documents and forms are located. Employers sponsoring ERISA benefit plans have a responsibility to tell you the truth about your benefits, so make sure you document your requests and the responses. The employer typically is not the fiduciary, so you may be directed to the appropriate fiduciary respopnsible for the benefit plans. The fiduciary also must be truthful and provide you a complete response to your questions.
Your employment contract should be drafted with great care to ensure that it reflects all that you need to know about your employee benefits. Both executives and non-executives should take care to understand the types of benefits offered and when you will become eligible for them. If you are choosing between several job offers or deciding whether or not to sign a new employment contract, legal insight from an attorney experienced in this area could be very helpful.