That helping hand came from the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA), the US Department of Labor’s (DoL) ERISA enforcement arm in Field Assistance Bulletin 2002-2 .
According to the PWBA, a key issue is whether the company representative is acting in a settlor capacity (that is, establishing, designing, or terminating plans) or in a fiduciary role, which involves plan management decisions. Generally, the PWBA said, company officials can’t dip into a plan’s assets to pay settlor expenses because such expenses benefit the employer.
The PWBA pointed out that certain activities classified as settlor related in a single-employer plan could be considered fiduciary in the case of a multiemployer arrangement. The agency said, for example, that employer-appointed trustees don’t represent the employers’ interests but act as plan fiduciaries instead.
The latest Field Assistance Bulletin uses a case study to illustrate the agency’s position on settlor versus fiduciary activities.