You, like other workers across the U.S., may earn benefits as a perk or alternative form of compensation from your employer. This may include a retirement plan, as well as health, life and disability insurance plans. Without protection, however, you and your family may not receive these benefits you worked so hard for.

Administered through the Employee Benefits Security Administration, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 stipulate guidelines for employers who offer such benefit plans.

Protecting workers

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, ERISA protections apply to those who participate in employer-offered benefit plans and their beneficiaries. Such covered programs include health benefit plans, retirement plans and welfare benefit plans. As of the fiscal year 2013, ERISA covered approximately 2.4 million health benefit plans, 684,000 retirement plans and 2.4 million welfare benefit plans.

Setting standards

Although ERISA does not require that employers provide benefits plans to their workers, it does specify standards for those who do. Under the act, employers must provide information regarding the benefit plans to workers who choose to participate in their plan programs. This includes facts about the plan rules, including a summary plan description and a summary of benefits and coverage. ERISA also stipulates how plan managers, fiduciaries, and others involved with the management and operation of the plan must conduct themselves. The act holds those in charge of such plans to high standards and requires that they act transparently and in the best interests of the plan participants. Should an employer go bankrupt, ERISA ensures that employees will still receive the benefits they earned.