NU Online News Service, May 19, 2004, 5:35 p.m. EDT – The federal Employee Benefits Security Administration has started a campaign to educate benefit plan fiduciaries about their responsibilities under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.[@@]

The agency has scheduled a series of seminars connected with the “Getting It Right?Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities” campaign in Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts and Ohio.

The seminars, which start June 17, will explain why employers must make timely contributions to fund benefits and tell participants how to avoid making prohibited transactions, officials say.

EBSA, an arm of the U.S. Department of Labor, also has released a collection of pamphlets on topics such as meeting fiduciary responsibilities, understanding retirement plan fees and expenses, selecting benefit plan auditors and reporting on benefit plan finances and activities.

Complying with ERISA “can be challenging,” U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao says in a statement about the new educational campaign. “This is particularly true for small and medium-sized employers [that] have limited time, resources and access to professional help with benefit programs.”

Labor officials are hoping the seminars and pamphlets will help employers understand the rules and improve workers’ financial security, Chao says.

Groups helping EBSA with the campaign include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, and the National Federation of Independent Business, Nashville, Tenn.

Benefits advisors can get more information about the seminars and read the new pamphlets on the Web at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/fiduciaryeducation.html