An official at the Employee Benefits Security Administration has tried to determine who is most responsible for collecting late employer and employee benefit plan contributions.

The guidance, given in EBSA Field Assistance Bulletin 2008-01, applies to retirement plans, health plans and other plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Plan trustees do have a responsibility to collect contributions, Robert Doyle, EBSA director of regulations and interpretations, concludes in the bulletin.

“If a plan has two or more trustees, the duty may be allocated to a single trustee,” Doyle writes. “A plan may also provide that a named fiduciary may direct a trustee as to this responsibility or may appoint an investment manager to take on this duty.”

If plan documents or trust agreements limit a trustee’s responsibilities, “it is generally the responsibility of the named fiduciary with the authority to hire and monitor trustees to assure that all trustee responsibilities with respect to the management and control of the plan’s assets (including collecting delinquent contributions) have been properly assigned to a trustee or investment manager,” Doyle writes.

A copy of the field assistance bulletin is available