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HR Compliance Tools: 4 Key Resources to Have On-Hand

Woman in human resources smiling and pointing at document.Picture this: It's a hectic Monday morning. You open your email to find your inbox flooded with urgent employee questions and time-sensitive issues. You try to answer all the requests as quickly as possible. When you’re finally done, the last thing you want to do is read about compliance updates. That’s where HR compliance resources can help.

It's already challenging to navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape of laws and regulations — let alone communicate these updates to employees. As a human resources professional, you need more than just expertise; you need the right systems at your disposal to stay ahead.

That's where HR compliance resources come in. These tools can help streamline your operations and ensure your organization is making strides to be compliant. These resources can be applied to many HR areas, including your retirement or employee benefits plans.

In this article, we'll focus on the four essential retirement and employee benefits resources to have on hand to help you stay ahead of inbox requests and make it easier to give accurate compliance information.

4 Key retirement plan resources

HR professionals rely on key resources to raise awareness of employee and retirement benefits. These resources also serve as compliance tools, creating transparency, holding HR accountable and providing clarity.

Employees want to be more aware of their benefit options so they can select better plans that improve their overall job satisfaction. In 2023, MetLife’s Employee Benefit Trends Study found "76% of workers who understand their benefits are happy and 82% believe their benefits give them a greater sense of overall stability — versus only 47% and 52%, respectively, who don’t."

The study also found that "62% of employees say understanding how to use their benefits would give them a greater sense of overall stability while 50% say having a better understanding of their benefits — what’s offered and what’s covered — would make them more loyal."

Based on the research, there's value in developing materials to keep employees informed about retirement and employee benefits. To ensure you have what you need to be successful, here are the four main resources you should have on hand.

1. Plan documents and applicable amendments

Plan documents and applicable amendments communicate the overall structure of your retirement plan and allow employees to see their benefits in full detail.

Your organization should also provide a summary plan description. The SPD contains many components, including plan design features, which educate participants and help organizations stay compliant with regulations.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the SPD provides essential plan information about "when an employee can begin to participate in the plan, how service and benefits are calculated, when benefits becomes vested, when and in what form benefits are paid and how to file a claim for benefits."

Leveraging your plan document can create a solid educational foundation for your employees, helping promote transparency and trust.

If you haven't recently updated your plan document to reflect recent law changes, use the IRS’ 401(k) Plan Fix-It Guide. You must update your 401(k) plans to conform to changes in federal tax laws and reflect the IRS’ official guidance. For specifics on what exact plan documents and applicable amendments you need, see the IRS tax information for plan participants/employees.

2. Access to accurate employee records and data

By law, the IRS requires plan sponsors to maintain plan records. You'll need to have books and records available for audits.

These records will also help you develop precision in benefits administration and create a seamless decision-making process.

If you're a plan sponsor, the IRS suggests you keep:

  • plan and trust documents;
  • recent amendments;
  • determination and approval letters;
  • related annuity contracts; and
  • collective bargaining agreements.

While these are some suggestions, the documents you will need to keep are ultimately based on the type of plan you sponsor, including Simplified Employee Pension plans; SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees) IRA plans; and profit sharing, 401(k) or defined benefit plans.

By controlling how you manage compliance records and sensitive data, you'll have the information to avoid potential compliance risks. Visit the IRS Retirement Plan page to learn more about regulatory compliance requirements.

3. Understanding government regulations

A working understanding of retirement plan rules enables HR professionals to navigate the intricate landscape of compliance requirements. Depending on the situation, this could potentially safeguard both the organization and its employees. Examples of recent legislation that HR professionals should understand include:

  • Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act);
  • SECURE 2.0; and
  • Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

One of the most important regulations that plan sponsors should know is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. DOL defines ERISA as a "federal law that sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established retirement and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans." This law holds plan sponsors accountable for providing key information to their participants.

4. External consultants

An objective and knowledgeable consultant acts as a guiding compass, offering strategic insights and interpretation of complex regulatory changes. This contributes to informed decision-making and optimal benefits management.

For example, TruePlan acts like an external consultant to our clients. We help them with their retirement plan needs, from plan management to benefit selection. By having a trusted expert in your corner, you're able to get the expertise you need to reach your short- and long-term goals.

Strengthen your compliance efforts

It can be difficult to find areas where you can save time, reduce risk and track compliance efforts. Use these four retirement plan resources as a starting point to better navigate the dynamic landscape of retirement and employee benefits plans with confidence and effectiveness. If you have questions or would like to know how TruePlan can help you with your retirement plan, don't hesitate to contact us today!

TruePlan Benefit and Retirement Advisors is a marketing name of Healthcare Community Securities Corp., member FINRA/SIPC, and an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Past performance is not indicative or a guarantee of future returns. The information in this piece is not a recommendation to invest nor should it be relied upon as instruction to invest. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Exposure to an asset class represented by an index may be available through investable instruments based on that index. Please visit our website for further explanation and detail surrounding the indices referenced within.

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