U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Nov 30, 2022

§ 2530.200a - Scope.

§ 2530.200a-1 - Relationship of the Act and the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.

(a) Part 2 of title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”) contains minimum standards that a plan which is an employee pension benefit plan within the meaning of section 3(2) of the Act and which is covered under part 2 must satisfy. (For a general explanation of the coverage of part 2, see § 2530.201-1.) Substantially identical requirements are imposed by subchapter D of chapter 1 of subtitle A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (hereinafter referred to as “the Code”) for plans seeking qualification for certain tax benefits under the Code. In general, the Code provisions apply to “qualified” pension, profit-sharing, and stock bonus plans described in section 401(a) of the Code, annuity plans described in section 403(a) of the Code and bond purchase plans described in section 405(a) of the Code. The standards contained in title I of the Act apply generally to both “nonqualified' and “qualified” employee pension benefit plans. The standards contained in the Act, and the related Code provisions, are “minimum” standards. In general, more liberal plan provisions (in terms of the benefit to be derived by the employee) are not prohibited.

(b) For a definition of the term “employee pension benefit plan”, see section 3(2) of the Act and § 2510.3-2.

(c) For a statement of the coverage of part 2 of the Act, see sections 4 and 201 of the Act and §§ 2510.3-2, 2510.3-3, 2530.201-1 and 2530.201-2.

§ 2530.200a-2 - Treasury regulations for purposes of the Act.

Regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury or his delegate under sections 410 and 411 of the Code (relating to minimum standards for participation and vesting) shall apply for purposes of sections 202 through 204 of the Act. Thus, except for those provisions (such as the definition of an hour of service or a year of service) for which authority to prescribe regulations is specifically delegated to the Secretary of Labor, regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury shall also be used to implement the related provisions contained in the Act. Those regulations specify the credit that must be given to an employee for years of service and years of participation completed by the employee. The allocation of regulatory jurisdiction between the Secretary of Treasury or his delegate and the Secretary of Labor is governed by titles I through III of the Act. See section 3002 of the Act (88 Stat. 996).

§ 2530.200a-3 - Labor regulations for purposes of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.

The Secretary of Labor is specifically authorized to prescribe certain regulations (generally relating to hour of service, year of service, break in service, year of participation and special rules for seasonal and maritime industries) applicable to both title I of the Act and sections 410 and 411 of the Code. These regulations are contained in this subpart (A) and subpart B of this part (2530) and must be integrated with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury or his delegate under sections 410 of the Code (relating to minimum participation standards), 411(a) of the Code (relating to minimum vesting standards) and 411(b) of the Code (relating to benefit accrual requirements). The allocation of regulatory jurisdiction between the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of the Treasury or his delegate is governed by titles I through III of the Act. See section 3002 of the Act (88 Stat. 996).

§ 2530.200b-1 - Computation periods.

(a) General. Under sections 202, 203 and 204 of the Act and sections 410 and 411 of the Code, an employee's statutory entitlements with regard to participation, vesting and benefit accrual are generally determined by reference to years of service and years of participation completed by the employee and one-year breaks in service incurred by the employee. The units used for determining an employee's credit towards statutory participation, vesting and benefit accrual entitlements are in turn defined in terms of the number of hours of service credited to the employee during a specified period - in general, a twelve-consecutive-month period - referred to herein as a “computation period”. A plan must designate eligibility computation periods pursuant to § 2530.202-2 and vesting computation periods pursuant to § 2530.203-2, and, under certain circumstances, a defined benefit plan must designate accrual computation periods pursuant to § 2530.204-2. An employee who is credited with 1000 hours of service during an eligibility computation period must generally be credited with a year of service for purposes of section 202 of the Act and section 410 of the Code (relating to minimum participation standards). An employee who is credited with 1000 hours of service during a vesting computation period must generally be credited with a year of service for purposes of section 203 of the Act and 411(a) of the Code (relating to minimum vesting standards). An employee who completes 1000 hours of service during an accrual computation period must, under certain circumstances, be credited with at least a partial year of participation for purposes of section 204 of the Act and section 411(b) of the Code (relating to benefit accrual requirements). With respect to benefit accrual, however, the plan may not be required to credit an employee with a full year of participation and, therefore, full accrual for such year of participation unless the employee is credited with the number of hours of service or other permissible units of credit prescribed under the plan for crediting of a full year of participation (see § 2530.204-2 (c) and (d)). It should be noted that under some of the equivalencies which a plan may use under § 2530.200b-3 to determine the number of units of service to be credited to an employee in a computation period, an employee must be credited with a year of service of partial year of participation if the employee is credited with a number of units of service which is less than 1000 in a computation period. See also § 2530.200b-9, relating to elapsed time.

(b) Rules generally applicable to computation periods. In general, employment at the beginning or the end of an applicable computation period or on any particular date during the computation period is not determinative of whether the employee is credited with a year of service or a partial year of participation, or incurs a break in service, for the computation period. Rather, these determinations generally must be made solely with reference to the number of hours (or other units of service) which are credited to the employee during the applicable computation period. For example, an employee who is credited with 1000 hours of service during any portion of a vesting computation period must be credited with a year of service for that computation period regardless of whether the employee is employed by the employer on the first or the last day of the computation period. It should be noted, however, that in certain circumstances, a plan may provide that certain consequences follow from an employee's failure to be employed on a particular date. For example, under section 202(a)(4) of the Act and section 410(a)(4) of the Code, a plan may provide that an individual otherwise entitled to commence participation in the plan on a specified date does not commence participation on that date if he or she was separated from the service before that date. Similary, under section 204(b)(1) of the Act and section 411(b)(1) of the Code, a plan which is not a defined benefit plan is not subject to section 204 (b)(1) and (b)(3) of the Act and section 411 (b)(1) and (b)(3) of the Code. Such a plan, therefore, may provide that an individual who has been a participant in the plan, but who has separated from service before the date on which the employer's contributions to the plan or forfeitures are allocated among participant's accounts or before the last day of the vesting computation period, does not share in the allocation of such contributions or forfeitures even though the individual is credited with 1000 or more hours of service for the applicable vesting computation period. Under certain circumstances, however, such a plan provision may result in discrimination prohibited under section 401(a)(4) of the Code. See Revenue Ruling 76-250, I.R.B. 1976-27.

§ 2530.200b-2 - Hour of service.

(a) General rule. An hour of service which must, as a minimum, be counted for the purposes of determining a year of service, a year of participation for benefit accrual, a break in service and employment commencement date (or reemployment commencement date) under sections 202, 203 and 204 of the Act and sections 410 and 411 of the Code, is an hour of service as defined in paragraphs (a)(1), (2) and (3) of this section. The employer may round up hours at the end of a computation period or more frequently.

(1) An hour of service is each hour for which an employee is paid, or entitled to payment, for the performance of duties for the employer during the applicable computation period.

(2) An hour of service is each hour for which an employee is paid, or entitled to payment, by the employer on account of a period of time during which no duties are performed (irrespective of whether the employment relationship has terminated) due to vacation, holiday, illness, incapacity (including disability), layoff, jury duty, military duty or leave of absence. Notwithstanding the preceding sentence,

(i) No more than 501 hours of service are required to be credited under this paragraph (a)(2) to an employee on account of any single continuous period during which the employee performs no duties (whether or not such period occurs in a single computation period);

(ii) An hour for which an employee is directly or indirectly paid, or entitled to payment, on account of a period during which no duties are performed is not required to be credited to the employee if such payment is made or due under a plan maintained solely for the purpose of complying with applicable workmen's compensation, or unemployment compensation or disability insurance laws; and

(iii) Hours of service are not required to be credited for a payment which solely reimburses an employee for medical or medically related expenses incurred by the employee.

For purposes of this paragraph (a)(2), a payment shall be deemed to be made by or due from an employer regardless of whether such payment is made by or due from the employer directly, or indirectly through, among others, a trust fund, or insurer, to which the employer contributes or pays premiums and regardless of whether contributions made or due to the trust fund, insurer or other entity are for the benefit of particular employees or are on behalf of a group of employees in the aggregate.

(3) An hour of service is each hour for which back pay, irrespective of mitigation of damages, is either awarded or agreed to by the employer. The same hours of service shall not be credited both under paragraph (a)(1) or paragraph (a)(2), as the case may be, and under this paragraph (a)(3). Thus, for example, an employee who receives a back pay award following a determination that he or she was paid at an unlawful rate for hours of service previously credited will not be entitled to additional credit for the same hours of service. Crediting of hours of service for back pay awarded or agreed to with respect to periods described in paragraph (a)(2) shall be subject to the limitations set forth in that paragraph. For example, no more than 501 hours of service are required to be credited for payments of back pay, to the extent that such back pay is agreed to or awarded for a period of time during which an employee did not or would not have performed duties.

(b) Special rule for determining hours of service for reasons other than the performance of duties. In the case of a payment which is made or due on account of a period during which an employee performs no duties, and which results in the crediting of hours of service under paragraph (a)(2) of this section, or in the case of an award or agreement for back pay, to the extent that such award or agreement is made with respect to a period described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, the number of hours of service to be credited shall be determined as follows:

(1) Payments calculated on the basis of units of time. (i) Except as provided in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, in case of a payment made or due which is calculated on the basis of units of time, such as hours, days, weeks or months, the number of hours of service to be credited shall be the number of regularly scheduled working hours included in the units of time on the basis of which the payment is calculated. For purposes of the preceding sentence, in the case of an employee without a regular work schedule, a plan may provide for the calculation of the number of hours to be credited on the basis of a 40-hour workweek or an 8-hour workday, or may provide for such calculation on any reasonable basis which reflects the average hours worked by the employee, or by other employees in the same job classification, over a representative period of time, provided that the basis so used is consistently applied with respect to all employees within the same job classifications, reasonably defined. Thus, for example, a plan may not use a 40-hour workweek as a basis for calculating the number of hours of service to be credited for periods of paid absences for one employee while using an average based on hours worked over a representative period of time as a basis for such calculation for another, similarly situated employee.

(ii) Examples. The following examples illustrate the rules in paragraph (b)(1) of this section without regard to paragraphs (b)(2) and (3).

(A) Employee A was paid for 6 hours of sick leave at his normal hourly rate. The payment was therefore calculated on the basis of units of time (hours). A must, therefore, be credited with 6 hours of service for the 6 hours of sick leave.

(B) Employee B was paid his normal weekly salary for 2 weeks of vacation. The payment was therefore calculated on the basis of units of time (weeks). B is scheduled to work 37 1/2 hours per week (although from time to time working overtime). B must, therefore, be credited with 75 hours of service for the vacation (37 1/2 hours per week multiplied by 2 weeks).

(C) Employee C spent 3 weeks on a paid vacation. C's salary is established at an annual rate but is paid on a bi-weekly basis. The amount of salary payments attributable to be paid vacation was calculated on the basis of units of time (weeks). C has no regular work schedule but works at least 50 hours per week. The plan provides for the calculation of hours of service to be credited to employees in C's situation for periods of paid absences on the basis of a 40-hour workweek. C must, therefore, be credited with 120 hours of service for the vacation (3 weeks multiplied by 40 hours per week).

(D) Employee D spent 2 weeks on vacation, for which he was paid $150. Although D has no regular work schedule, the $150 payment was established on the assumption that an employee in D's position works an average of 30 hours per week at a rate of $2.25 per hour. The payment of $150 was therefore calculated on the basis of units of time (weeks). The plan provides for the calculation of hours of service to be credited to employees in D's situation for periods of paid absences on the basis of the average number of hours worked by an employee over a period of 6 months. D's employer's records show that D worked an average of 28 hours per week for a 6-month period. D must, therefore, be credited with 56 hours of service for the vacation (28 hours per week multiplied by 2 weeks).

(E) Employee E is regularly scheduled to work a 40-hour week. During a computation period E is incapacitated as a result of injury for a period of 11 weeks. Under the sick leave policy of E's employer E is paid his normal weekly salary for the first 8 weeks of his incapacity. After 8 weeks the employer ceases to pay E's normal salary but, under a disability insurance program maintained by the employer, E receives payments equal to 65% of his normal weekly salary for the remaining 3 weeks during which E is incapacitated. For the period during which he is incapacitated, therefore, E receives credit for 440 hours of service (11 weeks multiplied by 40 hours per week) regardless of the fact that payments to E for the last 3 wseeks of the period during which hs was incapacitated were made in amounts less than E's normal compensation.

(2) Payments not calculated on the basis of units of time. (i) Except as provided in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, in the case of a payment made or due, which is not calculated on the basis of units of time, the number of hours of service to be credited shall be equal to the amount of the payment divided by the employee's most recent hourly ratre of compensation (as determined under paragraph (b)(2)(ii) of this section) before the period during which no duties are performed.

(ii) For purposes of paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section an employee's hourly rate of compensation shall be determined as follows:

(A) In the case of an employee whose compensation is determined on the basis of an hourly rate, such hourly rate shall be the employee's most recent hourly rate of compensation.

(B) In the case of an employee whose compensation is determined on the basis of a fixed rate for specified periods of time (other than hours) such as days, weeks or months, the employee's hourly rate of compensation shall be the employee's most recent rate of compensation for a specified period of time (other than an hour), divided by the number of hours regularly scheduled for the performance of duties during such period of time. For purposes of the preceding sentence, in the case of an employee without a regular work schedule, the plan may provide for the calculation of the employee's hourly rate of compensation on the basis of a 40-hour workweek, an 8-hour workday, or may provide for such calculation on any reasonable basis which reflects the average hours worked by the employee over a representative period of time, provided that the basis so used is consistently applied with respect to all employees within the same job classifications, reasonably defined.

(C) In the case of an employee whose compensation is not determined on the basis of a fixed rate for specified periods of time, the employee's hourly rate of compensation shall be the lowest hourly rate of compensation paid to employees in the same job classification as that of the employee or, if no employees in the same job classification have an hourly rate, the minimum wage as established from time to time under section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended.

(iii) Examples. The following examples illustrate the rules in paragraph (b)(2) of this section without regard to paragraphs (b)(1) and (3).

(A) As a result of an injury, an employee is incapacitated for 5 weeks. A lump sum payment of $500 is made to the employee with respect to the injury under a disability insurance plan maintained by the employee's employer. At the time of the injury, the employee's rate of pay was $3.00 per hour. The employee must, therefore, be credited with 167 hours of service ($500 divided by $3.00 per hour).

(B) Same facts as in Example (A), above, except that at the time of the injury, the employee's rate of pay was $160 per week and the employee has a regular work schedule of 40 hours per week. The employee's hourly rate of compensation is, therefore, $4.00 per hour ($160 per week divided by 40 hours per week) and the employee must be credited with 125 hours of service for the period of absence ($500 divided by $4.00 per hour).

(C) An employee is paid at an hourly rate of $3.00 per hour and works a regular schedule of 40 hours per week. The employee is disabled for 26 weeks during a computation period. For the first 12 weeks of disability, the employee is paid his normal weekly earnings of $120 per week by the employer. Thereupon, a lump-sum disability payment of $1000 is made to the employee under a disability insurance plan maintained by the employer. Under paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, the employee is credited with 501 hours of service for the period of disability (lesser of 501 hours - the maximum number of hours required to be credited for a period of absence - or the sum of 12 weeks multiplied by 40 hours per week plus $1000 divided by $3.00 per hour).

(3) Rule against double credit. (i) Nothwithstanding paragraphs (b)(1) and (2) of this section, an employee is not required to be credited on account of a period during which no duties are performed with a number of hours of service which is greater than the number of hours regularly scheduled for the performance of duties during such period. For purposes of applying the preceding sentence in the case of an employee without a regular work schedule, a plan may provide for the calculation of the number of hours of service to be credited to the employee for a period during which no duties are performed on the basis of a 40-hour workweek or an 8-hour workday, or may provide for such calculation on any reasonable basis which reflects the average hours worked by the employee, or by other employees in the same job classification, over a representative period of time, provided that the basis so used is consistently applied with respect to all employees within the same job classifications, reasonably defined.

(ii) Examples. (A) Employee A has a regular 40-hour workweek. Each year Employee A is entitled to pay for a two-week vacation, in addition to receiving normal wages for all hours worked, regardless of whether A actually takes a vacation and regardless of the duration of his vacation. The vacation payments are, therefore, calculated on the basis of units of time (weeks). In computation period I, A takes no vacation but receives vacation pay. A is entitled to no credit for hours of service for the vacation payment made in computation period I because the payment was not made on account of a period during which no duties were performed. In computation period II, A takes a vacation of one week in duration, although receiving pay for a two-week vacation. A is entitled to be credited with 40 hours of service for his one-week vacation in computation period II even though paid for two weeks of vacation. In computation period III, A takes a vacation for a period lasting more than 2 weeks. A is entitled to be credited with 80 hours of service for his vacation in computation period III (40 hours per week multiplied by 2 weeks) even though the vacation lasted more than 2 weeks.

(B) Employee B has no regular work schedule. As a result of an injury, B is incapacitated for 1 day. A lump-sum payment of $500 is made to A with respect to the injury under an insurance program maintained by the employer. A pension plan maintained by the employer provides for the calculation of the number of hours of service to be credited to an employee without a regular work schedule on the basis of an 8-hour day. A is therefore required to be credited with no more than 8 hours for the day during which he was incapacitated, even though A's rate of pay immediately before the injury was $3.00 per hour.

(c) Crediting of hours of service to computation periods. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(4) of this section, hours of service described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section shall be credited to the computation period in which the duties are performed.

(2) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(4) of this section, hours of service described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section shall be credited as follows:

(i) Hours of service credited to an employee on account of a payment which is calculated on the basis of units of time, such as hours, days, weeks or months, shall be credited to the computation period or computation periods in which the period during which no duties are performed occurs, beginning with the first unit of time to which the payment relates.

(ii) Hours of service credited to an employee by reason of a payment which is not calculated on the basis of units of time shall be credited to the computation period in which the period during which no duties are performed occurs, or if the period during which no duties are performed extends beyond one computation period, such hours of service shall be allocated between not more than the first two computation periods on any reasonable basis which is consistently applied with respect to all employees within the same job classifications, reasonably defined.

(3) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(4) of this section, hours of service described in paragraph (a)(3) of this section shall be credited to the computation period or periods to which the award or agreement for back pay pertains, rather than to the computation period in which the award, agreement or payment is made.

(4) In the case of hours of service to be credited to an employee in connection with a period of no more than 31 days which extends beyond one computation period, all such hours of service may be credited to the first computation period or the second computation period. Crediting of hours of service under this paragraph must be done consistently with respect to all employees within the same job classifications, reasonably defined.

(5) Examples. The following examples are intended to illustrate paragraph (c)(4) of this section.

(i) An employer maintaining a plan pays employees on a bi-weekly basis. The plan designates the calendar year as the vesting computation period. The employer adopts the practice of crediting hours of service for the performance of duties during a bi-weekly payroll period to the vesting computation period in which the payroll period ends. Thus, when a payroll period ends on January 7, 1978, all hours of service to be credited to employees for the performance of duties during that payroll period are credited to the vesting computation period beginning on January 1, 1978. This practice is consistent with paragraph (c)(4) of this section, even though some hours of service credited to the computation period beginning on January 1, 1978, are attributable to duties performed during the previous vesting computation period.

(ii) An employer maintains a sick leave policy under which an employee is entitled to a certain number of hours of sick leave each year, on account of which the employee is paid his or her normal rate of compensation. An employee with a work schedule of 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, is sick from December 26, 1977 through January 4, 1978. Under the employer's sick leave policy, the employee is entitled to compensation for the entire period. A plan maintained by the employer establishes a calendar-year vesting computation period. The period from December 26, 1977 through December 31, 1977 includes 5 working days; the period from January 1, 1978 through January 4, 1978 includes 3 working days. Unless the plan adopts the alternative method for crediting service under paragraph (c)(4) of this section (illustrated in Example (iii), below) for the period of paid sick leave, the plan, pursuant to paragraph (c)(2)(i) of this section, must credit the employee with 40 hours of service in the 1977 vesting computation period (5 days multiplied by 8 hours per day) and 24 hours of service in the 1978 vesting computation period (3 days multiplied by 8 hours per day).

(iii) Same facts as in Example (ii), above, except that the plan adopts the practice of crediting hours of service for sick leave and other periods of compensated absences to the vesting computation period in which the employer's bi-weekly payroll period ends. The employee returns to work on January 5, 1978 and works for 2 days. For the 2-week payroll period ending on January 8, 1978, the employee may be credited with 80 hours of service in the 1978 vesting computation period (64 hours of service for the paid sick leave and 16 hours of service for the 2 days during which duties were performed).

(d) Other Federal law. Nothing in this section shall be construed to alter, amend, modify, invalidate, impair or supersede any law of the United States or any rule or regulation issued under any such law. Thus, for example, nothing in this section shall be construed as denying an employee credit for an “hour of service” if credit is required by separate Federal law. Furthermore, the nature and extent of such credit shall be determined under such law.

(e) Additional examples. (1) During a computation period, an employee was paid for working 38 1/4 hours a week for 45 weeks. During the remaining 7 weeks of the computation period the employee was not employed by this employer. The employee completed 1,721 1/4 hours of service (45 weeks worked multiplied by 38 1/4 hours per week). The employer may also round up hours at the end of the computation period or more frequently. Thus, this employee could be credited with 1,722 hours of service (or, if the employer rounded up at the end of each week, 39 hours of service per week, resulting in credit for 1,755 hours of service).

(2) During a computation period, an employee was paid for a workweek of 40 hours per week for 40 weeks and, including overtime, for working 50 hours per week for 8 weeks. The employee completed 2,000 hours of service (40 weeks multiplied by 40 hours per week, plus 8 weeks worked multiplied by 50 hours per week).

(3) During a computation period an employee was paid for working 2 regularly scheduled 40-hour weeks and then became disabled. The employee was disabled through the remainder of the computation period and the following computation period. Throughout the period of disability, payments were made to the employee as follows: For the first month of the period of disability, the employer continued to pay the employee the employee's normal compensation at the same rate as before the disability occurred; thereupon, under the employer's disability insurance policy, payments were made to the employee in amounts equal to 80 percent of the employee's compensation before the disability. For the first computation period the employee is credited with 80 hours of service for the performance of duties (2 weeks multiplied by 40 hours per week) and 501 hours hours of service for the period of disability (the lesser of 501 hours of service or 50 weeks multiplied by 40 hours per week), or a total of 581 hours of service; for the second computation period the employee is credited with no hours of service because, under paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section, the maximum of 501 hours of service has been credited for the period of disability in the first computation period.

(4) An employee has a regularly scheduled 5-day, 40-hour week. During a computation period the employee works for the first week, spends the second week on a paid vacation, returns to work for an hour and is then disabled for the remainder of the computation period. Payments under a disability plan maintained by the employer are made to the employee on account of the period of disability. The employee is credited with 582 hours of service for the computation period (40 hours for the period of paid vacation; 41 hours for the performance of duties; 501 hours for the period of disability).

(5) Same facts as in Example (4), above, except that the employee's period of disability begins before the employee returns from vacation to the performance of duties. The employee is credited with only 541 hours of service, because the paid vacation and the disability together constitute a single, continuous period during which no duties were performed and, therefore, under paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section, no more than 501 hours of service are required to be credited for such period.

(6) During a computation period, an employee worked 40 hours a week for the first 2 weeks. The employee then began serving on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, which service occupied the remaining 50 weeks of the computation period. The employee would be credited with 80 hours (2 weeks worked multiplied by 40 hours) plus such credit as may be prescribed by separate Federal laws relating to military service. The nature and extent of the credit that the employee receives upon his return and the purpose for which such credit is given, e.g., the percentage of his or her accrued benefits derived from employer contributions which are nonforfeitable (or vested), will depend upon the interpretation of the Federal law governing veterans' reemployment rights.

(f) Plan document. A plan which credits service on the basis of hours of service must state in the plan document the definition of hours of service set forth in paragraph (a) of this section, but is not required to state the rules set forth in paragraph (b) and (c) of this section if they are incorporated by reference.

§ 2530.200b-3 - Determination of service to be credited to employees.

(a) General rule. For the purpose of determining the hours of service which must be credited to an employee for a computation period, a plan shall determine hours of service from records of hours worked and hours for which payment is made or due or shall use an equivalency permitted under paragraph (d), (e) or (f) of this section to determine hours of service. Any records may be used to determine hours of service to be credited to employees under a plan, even though such records are maintained for other purposes, provided that they accurately reflect the actual number of hours of service with which an employee is required to be credited under § 2530.200b-2(a). Payroll records, for example, may provide sufficiently accurate data to serve as a basis for determining hours of service. If, however, existing records do not accurately reflect the actual number of hours of service with which an employee is entitled to be credited, a plan must either develop and maintain adequate records or use one of the permitted equivalencies. A plan may in any case credit hours of service under any method which results in the crediting of no less than the actual number of hours of service required to be credited under § 2530.200b-2(a) to each employee in a computation period, even though such method may result in the crediting of hours of service in excess of the number of hours required to be credited under § 2530.200b-2. A plan is not required to prescribe in its documents which records are to be used to determine hours of service.

(b) Determination of pre-effective date hours of service. To the extent that a plan is required to determine hours of service completed before the effective date of part 2 of title I of the Act (see section 211 of the Act), the plan may use whatever records may be reasonably accessible to it and may make whatever calculations are necessary to determine the approximate number of hours of service completed before such effective date. For example, if a plan or an employer maintaining the plan has, or has access to, only the records of compensation of employees for the period before the effective date, it may derive the pre-effective date hours of service by using the hourly rate for the period or the hours customarily worked. If accessible records are insufficient to make an approximation of the number of pre-effective date hours of service for a particular employee or group of employees, the plan may make a reasonable estimate of the hours of service completed by such employee or employees during the particular period. For example, if records are available with respect to some employees, the plan may estimate the hours of other employees in the same job classification based on these records. A plan may use any of the equivalencies permitted under this section, or the elapsed time method of crediting service permitted under this section, or the elapsed time method of crediting service permitted under § 2530.200b-9, to determine hours of service completed before the effective date of part 2 of title I of the Act.

(c) Use of equivalencies for determining service to be credited to employees. (1) The equivalencies permitted under paragraphs (d), (e) and (f) of this section are methods of determining service to be credited to employees during computation periods which are alternatives to the general rule for determining hours of service set forth in paragraph (a) of this section. The equivalencies are designed to enable a plan to determine the amount of service to be credited to an employee in a computation period on the basis of records which do not accurately reflect the actual number of hours of service required to be credited to the employee under § 2530.200b-2(a). However, the equivalencies may be used even if such records are maintained. Any equivalency used by a plan must be set forth in the document under which the plan is maintained.

(2) A plan may use different methods of crediting service, including equivalencies permitted under paragraphs (d), (e) and (f) of this section and the method of crediting service under the general rule set forth in § 2530.200b-2(a), for different classifications of employees covered under the plan or for different purposes, provided that such classifications are reasonable and are consistently applied. Thus, for example, a plan may provide that part-time employees are credited under the general method of crediting service set forth in § 2530.200b-2 and full-time employees are credited under a permissible equivalency. A classification, however, will not be deemed to be reasonable or consistently applied if such classification is designed with an intent to preclude an employee or employees from attaining statutory entitlement with respect to eligibility to participate, vesting or benefit accrual. For example, a classification applied so that any employee credited with less than 1,000 hours of service during a given 12-consecutive-month period would be considered part-time and subject to the general method of crediting service rather than an equivalency would not be reasonable.

(3) Notwithstanding paragraphs (c)(1) and (2) of this section, the use of a permissible equivalency for some, but not all, purposes or the use of a permissible equivalency for some, but not all, employees may, under certain circumstances, result in discrimination prohibited under section 401a of the Code, even though it is permitted under this section.

(d) Equivalencies based on working time - (1) Hours worked. A plan may determine service to be credited to an employee on the basis of hours worked, as defined in paragraph (d)(3)(i) of this section, if 870 hours worked are treated as equivalent to 1,000 hours of service and 435 hours worked are treated as equivalent to 500 hours of service.

(2) Regular time hours. A plan may determine service to be credited to an employee on the basis of regular time hours, as defined in paragraph (d)(3)(ii) of this section, if 750 regular time hours are treated as equivalent to 1,000 hours of service and 375 regular time hours are treated as equivalent to 500 hours of service.

(3) For purposes of this section:

(i) The term “hours worked” shall mean hours of service described in § 2530.200b-2(a)(1), and hours for which back pay, irrespective of mitigation of damages, is awarded or agreed to by an employer, to the extent that such award or agreement is intended to compensate an employee for periods during which the employee would have been engaged in the performance of duties for the employer.

(ii) The term “regular time hours” shall mean hours worked, except hours for which a premium rate is paid because such hours are in excess of the maximum workweek applicable to an employee under section 7(a) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended, or because such hours are in excess of a bona fide standard workweek or workday.

(4) A plan determining service to be credited to an employee on the basis of hours worked or regular time hours shall credit hours worked or regular time hours, as the case may be, to computation periods in accordance with the rules for crediting hours of service to computation periods set forth in § 2530.200b-2(c).

(5) Examples. (i) A defined benefit plan uses the equivalency based on hours worked permitted under paragraph (d)(1) of this section. The plan uses the same 12-consecutive-month period for the vesting and accrual computation periods. The plan credits a participant with each hour for which the participant is paid, or entitled to payment, for the performance of duties for the employer during a computation period (as well as each hour for which back pay is awarded or agreed to). During a vesting/accrual computation period Participant A is credited with 870 hours worked. A is credited with a year of service for purposes of vesting for the computation period and with at least a partial year of participation for purposes of accrual, as if A had been credited with 1000 hours of service during the computation period. During the same computation period Participant B is credited with 436 hours of service. B is not credited with a year of service for purposes of vesting or a partial year or paritcipation for purposes of accrual for the computation period, but does not incur a one-year break in service for the computation period, as if B had been credited with 501 hours of service during the computation period.

(ii) A plan uses the equivalency based on regular time hours permitted under paragraph (d)(2) of this section. During a computation period a participant works 370 regular time hours and 20 overtime hours. The participant incurs a one-year break in service for the computation period because he has not been credited with 375 regular time hours in the computation period.

(e) Equivalencies based on periods of employment. (1) Except as provided in paragraphs (e)(4) and (6) of this section, a plan may determine the number of hours of service to be credited to employees in a computation period on the following bases:

(i) On the basis of days of employment, if an employee is credited with 10 hours of service for each day for which the employee would be required to be credited with at least one hour of service under § 2530.200b-2;

(ii) On the basis of weeks of employment, if an employee is credited with 45 hours of service for each week for which the employee would be required to be credited with at least one hour of service under § 2530.200b-2;

(iii) On the basis of semi-monthly payroll periods, if an employee is credited with 95 hours of service for each semi-monthly payroll period for which the employee would be required to be credited with at least one hour of service under § 2530.200b-2; or

(iv) On the basis of months of employment, if an employee is credited with 190 hours of service for each month for which the employee would be required to be credited with at least one hour of service under § 2530.200 b-2.

(2) Except as provided in paragraphs (e)(4) and (6) of this section, a plan may determine the number of hours of service to be credited to employees in a computation period on the basis of shifts if an employee is credited with the number of hours included in a shift for each shift for which the employee would be required to be credited with at least one hour of service under § 2530.200b-2. if a plan uses the equivalency based on shifts permitted under this paragraph, the times of the beginning and end of each shift used as a basis for the determination of service shall be set forth in a document referred to in the plan.

(3) Examples. The following examples illustrate the application of paragraphs (e)(1) and (2) of this section;

(i) A plan uses the equivalency based on weeks of employment permitted under paragraph (e)(1)(ii) of this section. An employee works for one hour on the first workday of a week and then takes leave without pay for the entire remainder of the week. The plan must credit the employee with 45 hours of service for the week.

(ii) A plan uses the equivalency based on weeks of employment permitted under paragraph (e)(1)(ii) of this section. An employee spends a week on vacation with pay. The plan must credit the employee with 45 hours of service for the week.

(iii) A plan uses the equivalency based on weeks of employment permitted under paragraph (e)(1)(ii) of this section. An employee spends two days of a week on vacation with pay and the remainder of the week on leave without pay. The plan must credit the employee with 45 hours of service for the week.

(iv) A plan uses the equivalency based on weeks of employment permitted under paragraph (e)(1)(ii) of this section. An employee spends the entire week on leave without pay. The plan is not required to credit the employee with any hours of service for the week because no payment was made to the employee for the week of leave and, therefore, under § 2530.200b-2 no hours of service would be credited to the employee for the week of leave.

(v) The workday of an employer maintaining a plan is scheduled in shifts. Ordinarily, each shift is 6 hours in duration. At certain times, however, the employer schedules 8-hour shifts in order to meet increased demand. Such shifts are described in a collective bargaining agreement referred to in the plan documents. The plan must credit an employee with 6 hours of service for each 6-hour shift for which the employee would be credited with one hour of service under § 2530.200b-2, and with 8 hours of service for each such 8-hour shift.

(vi) An employer's workday is divided into three 8-hour shifts, each employee generally working 5 shifts per week. A plan maintained by the employer uses the equivalency based on shifts permitted under paragraph (e)(2) of this section. An employee is on vacation with pay for 2 weeks, during which, in the ordinary course of his work schedule, he would have worked 10 shifts. The employee must be credited with 80 hours of service for the vacation (10 shifts multiplied by 8 hours per shift).

(vii) An employer's workday is divided into three 8-hour shifts, each employee generally working 1 shift per workday. A plan maintained by the employer uses the equivalency based on shifts permitted under paragraph (e)(2) of this section. On a certain day, an employee works his normal 8-hour shift and an hour during the following shift. In addition to 8 hours service for the first shift, the employee must be credited with 8 hours of service for the following shift, since he would be entitled to be credited with at least one hour of service for the second shift under § 2530.200b-2.

(viii) A plan uses the equivalency based on days permitted under paragraph (e)(1)(i) of this section. During a computation period an employee spends 2 weeks on vacation with pay. In the ordinary course of the employee's regular work schedule, the employee would be engaged in the performance of duties for 10 days during the 2-week vacation period. Under § 2530.200b-2, the employee would be credited with at least one hour of service for each of the 10 days during the 2-week vacation for which the employee would ordinarily be engaged in the performance of duties. Under paragraph (e)(4) of this section, the employee is credited with 100 hours of service for the 2-week vacation (10 days multiplied by 10 hours of service per day).

(4) For purposes of this paragraph, in the case of a payment described in § 2530.200b-2(b)(2) (relating to payments not calculated on the basis of units of time), a plan using an equivalency based on units of time permitted under this paragraph shall credit the employee with the number of hours of service determined under paragraph (2) of § 2530.200b-2(b), and, to the extent applicable, paragraph (e)(3), containing the rule against double crediting, of § 2530.200b-2(b). For example, if an employee with a regular work schedule of 40 hours per week paid at a rate of $3.00 per hour is incapacitated for a period of 4 weeks and receives a lump sum payment of $500 for his incapacity, the employee must be credited with 160 hours of service for the period of incapacity, regardless of whether the plan uses an equivalency permitted under this paragraph (see example at § 2530.200b-2(b)(2)(iii)(A). If, however, the employee is incapacitated for only 3 weeks, under § 2530.200b-2(b)(3) the emmployee is not required to be credited with more than 120 hours of service (lesser of 167 hours of service determined under the preceding sentence or 3 weeks multiplied by 40 hours per week).

(5) For purposes of this paragraph, in the case of a payment to an employee calculated on the basis of units of time which are greater than the periods of employment used by a plan as a basis for determining service to be credited to the employee under this paragraph, the plan shall credit the employee with the number of periods of employment which, in the course of the employee's regular work schedule, would be included in the unit or units of time on the basis of which the payment is calculated. For example, a plan uses the equivalency based on days permitted under paragraph (e)(1)(i) of this section. During a computation period an employee spends 2 weeks on vacation with pay. In the ordinary course of the employee's regular work schedule, the employee would be engaged in the performance of duties for 10 days during the 2-week vacation period. Under § 2530.200b-2, the emplopyee would be credited with at least one hour of service for each of the 10 days during the 2-week vacation for which the employee would ordinarily be engaged in the performance of duties. Under this paragraph the employee is credited with 100 hours of service for the 2-week vacation (10 days multiplied by 10 hours of service per day). If, however, the employee, although paid for a 2-week vacation, spends only one week on vacation, under § 2530.200b-2(b)(3) the employee is not required to be credited with more than 50 hours of service (5 days multiplied by 10 hours per day).

(6) For purposes of this paragraph, in the case of periods of time used as a basis for determining service to be credited to an employee which extend into two computation periods, the plan may credit all hours of service (or other units of service) credited for such a period to the first computation period or the second computation period, or may allocate such hours of service (or other units of service) between the two computation periods on a pro rata basis. Crediting of service under this paragraph must be done consistently with respect to all employees within the same job classifications, reasonably defined.

(7) A plan may combine an equivalency based on working time permitted under paragraph (d) of this section (i.e., hours worked or regular time hours) with an equivalency based on periods of employment permitted under this paragraph if the following conditions are met:

(i) The plan credits an employee with the number of hours worked or regular time hours, as the case may be, equal to the number of hours of service which would be credited to the employee under paragraphs (e)(1) and (2) of this section, for each period of employment for which the employee would be credited with one hour worked or one regular time hour; and

(ii) The plan treats hours worked and regular time hours in the manner prescribed under paragraphs (d)(1) and (2) of this section.

(8) Example. The following example illustrates the application of paragraph (e)(7) of this section. A plan uses the equivalency based on weeks of employment permitted under paragraph (e)(1)(ii) of this section in conjunction with the equivalency based on hours worked permitted under paragraph (d)(1) of this section, as provided in paragraph (e)(7) of this section. During a vesting computation period an employee is paid for the performance of duties for at least 1 hour in each of the first 20 weeks of the computation period and spends the next 2 weeks on a paid vacation. The employee thereupon terminates employment performing no further duties for the employer, and receiving no further compensation in the computation period. The employee is therefore credited with 900 hours worked for the vesting computation period (20 weeks multiplied by 45 hours per week), receiving no credit for the two weeks of paid vacation. The employee is credited with a year of service for the vesting computation period because he has been credited with more than 870 hours for the computation period.

(f) Equivalencies based on earnings. (1) In the case of an employee whose compensation is determined on the basis of an hourly rate, a plan may determine the number of hours to be credited the employee in a computation period on the basis of earnings, if:

(i) The employee is credited with the number of hours equal to the total of the employee's earnings from time to time during the computation period divided by the employee's hourly rate as in effect at such times during the computation period, or equal to the employee's total earnings for the performance of duties during the computation period divided by the employee's lowest hourly rate of compensation during the computation period, or by the lowest hourly rate of compensation payable to an employee in the same, or a similar job classification, reasonably defined; and

(ii) 870 hours credited under paragraph (f)(1)(i) of this section are treated as equivalent to 1,000 hours of service, and 435 hours credited under paragraph (f)(1)(i) of this section are treated as equivalent to 500 hours of service.

For purposes of this paragraph (f)(1), a plan may divide earnings at premium rates for overtime by the employee's hourly rate for overtime, rather than the regular time hourly rate.

(2) In the case of an employee whose compensation is determined on a basis other than an hourly rate, a plan may determine the number of hours to be credited to the employee in a computation period on the basis of earnings if:

(i) The employee is credited with the number of hours equal to the employee's total earnings for the performance of duties during the computation period divided by the employee's lowest hourly rate of compensation during the computation period, determined under paragraph (f)(3) of this section; and

(ii) 750 hours credited under paragraph (f)(2)(i) of this section are treated as equivalent to 1,000 hours of service, and 375 hours credited under paragraph (f)(2)(i) of this section are treated as equivalent to 500 hours of service.

(3) For purposes of paragraph (f)(2) of this section, an employee's hourly rate of compensation shall be determined as follows:

(i) In the case of an employee whose compensation is determined on the basis of a fixed rate for a specified period of time (other than an hour) such as a day, week or month, the employee's hourly rate of compensation shall be the employee's lowest rate of compensation during a computation period for such specified period of time divided by the number of hours regularly scheduled for the performance of duties during such period of time. For purposes of the preceding sentence, in the case of an employee without a regular work schedule, the plan may provide for the calculation of the employee's hourly rate of compensation on the basis of a 40-hour workweek or an 8-hour workday, or may provide for such calculation on any reasonable basis which reflects the average hours worked by the employee over a representative period of time, provided that the basis so used is consistently applied to all employees within the same job classifications, reasonably defined.

(ii) In the case of an employee whose compensation is not determined on the basis of a fixed rate for a specified period of time, the employee's hourly rate of compensation shall be the lowest hourly rate of compensation payable to employees in the same job classification as the employee, or, if no employees in the same job classification have an hourly rate, the minimum wage as established from time to time under section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended.

(4) Examples. (i) In a particular job classification employees' wages range from $3.00 per hour to $4.00 per hour. To determine the number of hours to be credited to an employee in that job classification who is compensated at a rate of $4.00 per hour, a plan may divide the employee's total earnings during the computation period for the performance of duties either by $3.00 per hour (the lowest hourly rate of compensation in the job classification) or by $4.00 per hour (the employee's own hourly rate of compensation).

(ii) An hourly employee's total earnings for the performance of duties during a vesting computation period amount to $4,350. During that calendar year, the employee's lowest hourly rate of compensation was $5.00 per hour. The plan may determine the number of hours to be credited to the employee for that vesting computation period by dividing $4,350 by $5.00 per hour. The employee is credited with 870 hours for the vesting computation period and is, therefore, credited with a year of service for purposes of vesting.

(iii) During the first 3 months of a vesting computation period an hourly employee is paid at a rate of $3.00 per hour and earns $675 for the performance of duties; during the next 6 months, the employee is paid at a rate of $3.50 per hour and earns $1,575 for the performance of duties; during the final 3 months the employee is paid at a rate of $3.60 per hour and earns $810 for the performance of duties. The plan may determine the number of hours to be credited to the employee in the computation period under the equivalency set forth in paragraph (f)(1) of this section either (A) by dividing the employee's earnings for each period during which the employee was paid at a separate rate ($675 divided by $3.00 per hour equals 225 hours; $1,575 divided by $3.50 per hour equals 450 hours; $810 divided by $3.60 per hour equals 225 hours) and adding the hours so obtained (900 hours), or (B) by dividing the employee's total compensation for the vesting computation period by the employee's lowest hourly rate during the computation period ($3,020 divided by $3.00 per hour equals 1,009 2/3 hours). The plan may also divide the employee's total compensation during the computation period by the lowest hourly rate payable to an employee in the same, or a similar, job classification.

(iv) During a plan's computation period an hourly employee's total earnings for the performance of duties consist of $7,500 at a basic rate of $5.00 per hour and $750 at an overtime rate of $7.50 per hour for hours worked in excess of 40 in a week. If the plan uses the equivalency permitted under paragraph (f)(1) of this section, the plan may adjust for the overtime rate in calculating the number of hours to be credited to the employee. Thus, the plan may calculate the number of hours to be credited to the employee by adding the employee's earnings at the basic rate divided by the basic rate and the employee's earnings at the overtime rate divided by the overtime rate ($7,500 divided by $5.00 per hour, plus $750 divided by $7.50 per hour, or 1,500 hours plus 100 hours), resulting in credit for 1,600 hours for the computation period.

(v) During a plan's vesting computation period an employee's lowest weekly rate of compensation is $400 per week. The employee has a regular work schedule of 40 hours per week. The employee's lowest hourly rate during the vesting computation period is, therefore, $10 per hour ($400 per week divided by 40 hours per week). During the vesting computation period, the employee receives a total of $7,500 for the performance of duties. The plan determines the number of regular time hours to be credited to the employee for the computation period by dividing $7,500 by $10 per hour. The employee is credited with 750 hours for the computation period and is, therefore, credited with a year of service for purposes of vesting.

§ 2530.200b-4 - One-year break in service.

(a) Computation period. (1) Under sections 202(b) and 203(b)(3) of the Act and sections 410(a)(5) and 411(a)(6) of the Code, a plan may provide that an employee incurs a one-year break in service for a computation period or periods if the employee fails to complete more than 500 hours of service or, in the case of any maritime industry, 62 days of service in such period or periods.

(2) For purposes of section 202(b) of the Act and section 410(a)(5) of the Code, relating to one-year breaks in service for eligibility to participate, in determining whether an employee incurs a one-year break in service, a plan shall use the eligibility computation period designated under § 2530.202-2(b) for measuring years of service after the intital eligibility computation period.

(3) For purposes of section 203(b)(3) of the Act and section 411(a)(6) of the Code, relating to breaks in service for purposes of vesting, in determining whether an employee incurs a one-year break in service, a plan shall use the vesting computation period designated under § 2530.203-2(a).

(4) For rules regarding service which is not required to be taken into account for purposes of benefit accrual, see § 2530.204-1(b)(1).

(b) Service following a break in service. (1) For purposes of section 202(b)(3) of the Act and section 410(a)(5)(C) of the Code (relating to completion of a year of service for eligibility to participate after a one-year break in service), the following rules shall be applied in measuring completion of a year of service upon an employee's return after a one-year break in service:

(i) In the case of a plan which, after the initial eligibility computation period, measures years of service for purposes of eligibility to participate on the basis of eligibility computation periods beginning on anniversaries of an employee's employment commencement date, as permitted under § 2530.202-2(b)(1), the plan shall use the 12-consecutive-month period beginning on an employee's reemployment commencement date (as defined in paragraphs (b)(1)(iii) and (iv) of this section) and, where necessary, subsequent 12-consecutive-month periods beginning on anniversaries of the reemployment of commencement date.

(ii) In the case of a plan which, after the initial eligibility computation period, measures years of service for eligibility to participate on the basis of plan years beginning with the plan year which includes the first anniversary of the initial eligibility computation period, as permitted under § 2530.202-2(b)(2), the plan shall use the 12-consecutive-month period beginning on an employee's reemployment commencement date (as defined in paragraphs (b)(1)(iii) and (iv) of this section and, where necessary, plan years beginning with the plan year which includes the first anniversary of the employee's reemployment commencement date.

(iii) Except as provided in paragraph (b)(1)(iv) of this section, an employee's reemployment commencement date shall be the first day on which the employee is entitled to be credited with an hour of service described in § 2530.200b-2(a)(1) after the first eligibility computation period in which the employee incurs a one-year break in service following an eligibility computation period in which the employee is credited with more than 500 hours of service.

(iv) In the case of an employee who is credited with no hours of service in an eligibility computation period beginning after the employee's reemployment commencement date established under paragraph (b)(1)(iii) of this section, the employee shall be treated as having a new reemployment commencement date as of the first day on which the employee is entitled to be credited with an hour of service described in § 2530.200b-2(a)(1) after such eligibility computation period.

(2) For purposes of section 203(b)(3)(B) of the Act and section 411(a)(6)(B) of the Code (relating to the completion of a year of service for vesting following a one-year break in service), in measuring completion of a year of service upon an employee's return after a one-year break in service, a plan shall use the vesting computation period designated under § 2530.203-2. In the case of a plan which designates a separate vesting computation period for each employee (rather than one vesting computation period for all employees), when an employee who has incurred a one-year break in service later completes an initial hour of service, the plan may change the employee's vesting computation period to a 12-consecutive-month period beginning on the day on which such initial hour of service is completed, provided that the plan follows the rules for changing the vesting computation period set forth in § 2530.203-2(c)(1). Specifically, such a plan must ensure that as a result of the change of the vesting computation period of an employee who has incurred a one-year break in service to the 12-month period beginning on the first day on which the employee later completes an initial hour of service, the employee's vested percentage of the accrued benefit derived from employer contributions will not be less on any date after the change than such nonforfeitable percentage would be in the absence of the change. As under § 2530.203-2(c)(1), the plan will be deemed to satisfy the requirement of that paragraph if, in the case of an employee who has incurred a one-year break in service, the vesting computation period beginning on the day on which the employee completes an hour of service after the one-year break in service begins before the end of the last vesting computation period established before the change of vesting computation periods and, if the employee is credited with 1000 hours of service in both such vesting computation periods, the employee is credited with 2 years of service for purposes of vesting.

(3) For purposes of section 203(b)(3)(B) of the Act and section 411(a)(6)(B) of the Code (relating to the completion of a year of service for vesting following a one-year break in service), in measuring completion of a year of service upon an employee's return after a one-year break in service, a plan shall use the vesting computation period designated under § 2530.203-2. In the case of a plan which designates a separate vesting computation period for each employee (rather than one vesting computation period for all employees), when an employee who has incurred a one-year break in service later completes an initial hour of service, the plan may change the employee's vesting computation period to a 12-consecutive-month period beginning on the day on which such initial hour of service is completed, provided that the plan follows the rules for changing the vesting computation period set forth in § 2530.203-2(c)(1).

(4) Examples. (i) Employer X maintains a pension plan. The plan uses a calendar year vesting computation period and plan year. As conditions for participation, the plan requires that an employee of X complete one year of service and attain age 25, and, in accordance with § 2530.202-2(b)(2), provides that after the initial eligibility computation period, plan years will be used as eligibility computation periods, beginning with the plan year which includes the first anniversary of an employee's employment commencement date. Thus, under paragraph (a)(2) of this section, the plan must use plan years in measuring one-year breaks in service for eligibility to participate. The plan provides that an employee acquires a nonforfeitable right to 100 percent of the accrued benefit derived from employer contributions upon completion of 10 years of service. Under the plan, for purposes of vesting, years of service completed before an employee attains age 22 are not taken into account. The plan also provides that if an employee has incurred a one-year break in service, in computing the employee's period of service for eligibility to participate, years of service before such break will not be taken into account until the employee has completed a year of service with X after the employee's return. The plan further provides that in the case of an employee who has no vested right to an accrued benefit derived from employer contributions, years of service for purposes of eligibility to participate or vesting before a one-year break in service for eligibility or vesting (as the case may be) shall not be required to be taken into account if the number of consecutive one-year breaks in service equals or exceeds the aggregate number of such years of service before such consecutive one-year breaks in service.

(A) Employee A commences employment with X on January 1, 1976 at age 30 and completes a year of service for eligibility to participate and vesting in both the 1976 and 1977 computation periods. A becomes a participant in the plan on January 1, 1977. A terminates employment with X on November 3, 1977, after completing 1,000 hours of service; completes no hours of service in 1978, incurring a one-year break in service; and is reemployed by X on June 1, 1979. A completes 800 hours of service during the remainder of 1979 and 600 hours of service from January 1, 1980 through May 31, 1980. Under paragraph (b)(1)(iii) of this section, A's reemployment commencement date is June 1, 1979. By June 1, 1980, A has completed a year of service during the eligibility computation period following his return, and receives credit for his pre-break service to the extent required under section 202 of the Act and section 410 of the Code and the regulations thereunder. The plan is not, however, required to credit A with a year of service for vesting during 1979 because he failed to complete 1,000 hours of service during that vesting computation period. If A completes 400 or more hours of service from June 1, 1980 to December 31, 1980, then A will be credited with one year of service for vesting purposes for the 1980 vesting computation period.

(B) Employee B was born on February 22, 1955 and commenced employment with Employer X on July 1, 1975. B is credited with a year of service for eligibility to participate in the plan for the eligibility computation period beginning on his employment commencement date (July 1, 1975) and a year of service for eligibility and vesting for the 1976 and 1977 plan years. As of the end of the 1977 plan year, B is credited with 3 years of service for purposes of eligibility to participate, but only one year of service for purposes of vesting. Not having attained age 25, however, B is not admitted to participation in the plan upon completion of his first year of service with X. In the 1978 plan year, B fails to be credited with 500 hours of service, thereby incurring a one-year break in service. As a result of B's one-year break in service in the 1978 plan year, the year of service for vesting which was earlier credited to B for the 1977 plan year is disregarded because the one-year break in service equals the one year of service credited to B before the one-year break in service. After the end of the 1978 plan year, B does not perform an hour of service with X until February 3, 1979. February 3, 1979, therefore, is B's reemployment commencement date under paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section. B fails to be credited with 1,000 hours of service in the first eligibility computation period beginning on February 3, 1979, and also for the vesting computation period beginning January 1, 1979. Because, in accordance with § 2530.202-2(b)(2), the plan provides that after the initial eligibility computation period, plan years will be used as eligibility computation periods, under paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section the plan must provide that, in measuring completion of a year of service for eligibility to participate after a one-year break in service, plan years beginning with the plan year which includes an employee's reemployment commencement date will be used. B is credited with 1,000 hours of service for the plan year beginning on January 1, 1980 and is therefore credited with a year of service for the 1980 plan year. Under section 202(b)(3) of the Act and section 410(a)(5)(C) of the Code, as a consequence of B's completion of a year of service in the 1980 plan year, B's service before his one-year break in service in the 1978 plan year must be taken into account for eligibility purposes. As conditions of participation, the plan requires that an employee attain age 25 and complete one year of service. Upon his completion of a year of service for the 1980 plan year, B is deemed to have met the plan's participation requirements as of February 22, 1980, his twenty-fifth birthday, because the year of service completed by B in B's eligibility computation period beginning on January 1, 1976 is taken into account for eligibility purposes.

(ii) Employer Y maintains a defined benefit pension plan. The plan provides that an employee acquires a nonforfeitable right to 100 percent of the employee's accrued benefit derived from employer contributions upon completion of 10 years of service. As conditions for participation, the plan requires that an employee of Y complete one year of service and provides that if an employee has incurred a one-year break in service, in computing the employee's period of service for eligibility to participate, years of service before such break will not be taken into account until the employee has completed a year of service with Y after the employee's return. In accordance with § 2530.202-2(b)(1), the plan provides that after the initial eligibility computation period, eligibility computation periods beginning on anniversaries of an employee's employment commencement date will be used. Thus, under paragraph (a)(1) of this section, the plan must use computation periods beginning on anniversaries of the employee's employment commencement date in measuring one-year breaks in service. Employee C's employment commencement date with Y is February 1, 1975, C is credited with a year of service for eligibility to participate in the eligibility computation period beginning on C's employment commencement date and meets the plan's eligibility requirements as of February 1, 1976. In accordance with the provisions of the plan, C commences participation in the plan as of July 1, 1976. C is thereafter credited with a year of service for eligibility to participate in each of the eligibility computation periods beginning on anniversaries of C's employment commencement date (February 1) in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979. Thus, as of February 1, 1980, C is credited with 5 years of service for eligibility to participate. In the eligibility computation period beginning on February 1, 1980, C fails to be credited with more than 500 hours of service and therefore incurs a one-year break in service. In the eligibility computation period beginning on February 1, 1981, C is not credited with an hour of service for the performance of duties until March 1, 1981. Under paragraph (b)(1)(iii) of this section, March 1, 1981 is C's reemployment commencement date. C terminates employment with Y on May 1, 1981 and fails to be credited with 1000 hours of service in the 12-consecutive-month period beginning on March 1, 1981, or with more than 500 hours of service in the eligibility computation period beginning on February 1, 1981, thereby incurring a second one-year break in service for eligibility to participate. C is credited with no hours of service in the eligibility computation period beginning on February 1, 1982, thereby incurring a third one-year break in service for eligibility to participate, and is likewise credited with no hours of service in the 12-consecutive-month period beginning on March 1, 1982, the anniversary of B's reemployment commencement date. Under paragraph (b)(1)(iv) of this section, C must therefore be treated as having a new reemployment commencement date as of the first day following the close of the eligibility computation period beginning on February 1, 1982. On January 1, 1984 (before the end of the eligibility computation period beginning February 1, 1983) C is rehired by Y and is credited with an hour of service for the performance of duties. C is therefore treated as having a new reemployment commencement date January 1, 1984. C fails to be credited with more than 500 hours of service in the eligibility computation period beginning on February 1, 1983, thereby incurring a fourth one-year break in service, and fails to be credited with 1000 hours of service in the 12-consecutive-month period beginning on March 1, 1983, the anniversary of C's original reemployment commencement date. However, in the 12-consecutive-month period beginning on January 1, 1984, C is credited with 1000 hours of service, thus meeting the plan's requirement that an employee who has incurred a one-year break in service for eligibility to participate must complete a year of service upon the employee's return in order for years of service before the one-year break in service to be taken into account for purposes of eligibility. Because C's years of service completed before C's first one-year break in service must be taken into account under section 202(b) of the Act and section 410(b)(5) of the Code for purposes of eligibility to participate, under § 2530.204-2(a)(2) the period beginning on July 1, 1976 (the earliest date on which C was a participant) and extending until January 31, 1980 (the last day before C's first one-year break in service) must be taken into account for purposes of benefit accrual.

(c) Prior service for eligibility to participate. For rules relating to computing service preceding a break in service for the purpose of eligibility to participate in the plan, see § 2530.202-2(c).

(d) Prior service for vesting. For rules relating to computing service preceding a break in service for the purpose of credit toward vesting, see § 2530.203-2(d).

§ 2530.200b-5 - Seasonal industries. [Reserved]

§ 2530.200b-6 - Maritime industry.

(a) General. Sections 202(a)(3)(D), 203(b)(2)(D) and 204(b)(3)(E) of the Act and sections 410(a)(3)(D) and 411(a)(5)(D) and (b)(3)(E) of the Code contain special provisions applicable to the maritime industry. In general, those provisions permit statutory standards otherwise expressed in terms of 1,000 hours of service to be applied to employees in the maritime industry as if such standards were expressed in terms of 125 days of service. A plan covering employees in the maritime industry may nevertheless credit service to such employees on the basis of hours of service, as prescribed in § 2530.200b-2, including the use of any equivalency permitted under § 2530.200b-3, or may credit service to such employees on the basis of elapsed time, as permitted under § 2530.200b-9.

(b) Definition. For purposes of sections 202, 203, and 204 of the Act and sections 410 and 411 of the Code, the maritime industry is that industry in which employees perform duties on board commercial, exploratory, service or other vessels moving on the high seas, inland waterways, Great Lakes, coastal zones, harbors and noncontiguous areas, or on offshore ports, platforms or other similar sites.

(c) Computation periods. For employees in the maritime industry, computation periods shall be established as for employees in any other industry.

(d) Year of service. To the extent that a plan covers employees engaged in the maritime industry, and credits service for such employees on the basis of days of service, such employees who are credited with 125 days of service in the applicable computation period must be credited with a year of service. In the case of a plan covering both employees engaged in the maritime industry and employees not engaged in the maritime industry, service of employees not engaged in the maritime industry shall not be determined on the basis of days of service.

(e) Year of participation for benefit accrual. A plan covering employees engaged in the maritime industry may determine such an employee's period of service for purposes of benefit accrual on any basis permitted under §§ 2530.204-2 and 2530.204-3. For purposes of § 2530.204-2(c) (relating to partial years of participation), in the case of an employee engaged in the maritime industry who is credited by the plan on the basis of days of service and whose service is not less than 125 days of service during an accrual computation period, the calculation of such employee's period of service for purposes of benefit accrual shall be treated as not made on a reasonable and consistent basis if service during such computation period is not taken into account. Thus, the employee must be credited with at least a partial year of participation (but not necessarily a full year of participation) for that accrual computation period, in accordance with § 2530.204-2(c).

(f) Employment commencement date. For purposes of § 2530.200b-4 (relating to breaks in service) and § 2530.202-2 (relating to eligibility computation periods):

(1) The employment commencement date of an employee engaged in the maritime industry who is credited by the plan on the basis of days of service shall be the first day for which the employee is entitled to be credited with a day of service described in § 2530.200b-7(a)(1).

(2)(i) Except as provided in paragraph (f)(2)(ii) of this section, the reemployment commencement date of an employee engaged in the maritime industry shall be the first day for which the employee is entitled to be credited with a day of service described in § 2530.200b-7(a)(1) after the first eligibility computation period in which the employee incurs a 1-year break in service following an eligibility computation period in which the employee is credited with more than 62 days of service.

(ii) In the case of an employee engaged in the maritime industry who is credited with no hours of service in an eligibility computation period beginning after the employee's reemployment commencement date established under paragraph (f)(2)(i) of this section, the employee shall be treated as having a new reemployment commencement date as of the first day for which the employee is entitled to be credited with day of service described in § 2530.200b-7(a)(1) after such eligibility computation period.

§ 2530.200b-7 - Day of service for employees in the maritime industry.

(a) General rule. A day of service in the maritime industry which must, as a minimum, be counted for the purposes of determining a year of service, a year of participation for benefit accrual, a break in service and an employment commencement date (or reemployment commencement date) under sections 202, 203 and 204 of the Act and sections 410 and 411 of the Code by a plan that credits service by days of service rather than hours of service (as prescribed in § 2530.200b-2, or under equivalencies permitted under § 2530.200b-3) or elapsed time (as permitted under § 2530.200b-9), is a day of service as defined in paragraphs (a)(1), (2) and (3) of this section.

(1) A day of service is each day for which an employee is paid or entitled to payment for the performance of duties for the employer during the applicable computation period.

(2) A day of service is each day for which an employee is paid, or entitled to payment, by the employer on account of a period of time during which no duties are performed (irrespective of whether the employment relationship has terminated) due to vacation, holiday, illness, incapacity (including disability), layoff, jury duty, military duty or leave of absence. Notwithstanding the preceding sentence:

(i) No more than 63 days of service are required to be credited under this paragraph (a)(2) to an employee on account of any single continuous period during which the employee performs no duties (whether or not such period occurs in a single computation period);

(ii) A day for which an employee is directly or indirectly paid, or entitled to payment, on account of a period during which no duties are performed is not required to be credited to the employee if such payment is made or due under a plan maintained solely for the purpose of complying with applicable workmen's compensation (including maintenance and care), or unemployment compensation or disability insurance laws; and

(iii) Days of service are not required to be credited for a payment which solely reimburses an employee for medical or medically related expenses incurred by the employee.

For purposes of this paragraph (a)(2), a payment shall be deemed to be made by or due from an employer regardless of whether such payment is made by or due from the employer directly, or indirectly through, among others, a trust, fund, or insurer, to which the employer contributes or pays premiums, and regardless of whether contributions made or due to the trust, fund, insurer or other entity are for the benefit of particular employees or are made on behalf of a group of employees in the aggregate.

(3) A day of service is each day for which back pay, irrespective of mitigation of damages, has been either awarded or agreed to by the employer. Days of service shall not be credited both under paragraph (a)(1) or paragraph (a)(2), as the case may be, and under this subparagraph. Thus, for example, an employee who receives a back pay award following a determination that he or she was paid at an unlawful rate for days of service previously credited will not be entitled to additional credit for the same days of service. Crediting of days of service for back pay awarded or agreed to with respect to periods described in paragraph (a)(2) shall be subject to the limitations set forth in that paragraph. For example, no more than 63 days of service are required to be credited for payments of back pay, to the extent that such back pay is agreed to or awarded for a period of time during which an employee did not or would not have performed duties.

(b) Special rule for determining days of service for reasons other than the performance of duties. In the case of a payment which is made or due on account of a period during which an employee performs no duties, and which results in the crediting of days of service under paragraph (a)(3) of this section, or, in the case of an award or agreement for back pay, to the extent that such award or agreement is made with respect to a period described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, the number of days of service to be credited shall be determined as follows:

(1) Payments calculated on the basis of units of time. In the case of a payment made or due which is calculated on the basis of units of time, such as days, weeks or months, the number of days of service to be credited shall be the number of regularly scheduled working days included in the units of time on the basis of which the payment is calculated. For purposes of the preceding sentence, in the case of an employee without a regular work schedule, a plan may provide for the calculation of the number of days of service to be credited on the basis of a 5-day workweek, or may provide for such calculation on any reasonable basis which reflects the average days worked by the employee, or by other employees in the same job classification, over a representative period of time, provided that the basis so used is consistently applied with respect to all employees within the same job classifications, reasonably defined.

(2) Payments not calculated on the basis of units of time. Except as provided in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, in the case of a payment made or due, which is not calculated on the basis of units of time, the number of days of service to be credited shall be equal to the amount of the payment divided by the employee's most recent daily rate of compensation before the period during which no duties are performed.

(3) Rule against double credit. Notwithstanding paragraphs (b)(1) and (2) of this section, an employee is not required to be credited on account of a period during which no duties are performed with a number of days of service which is greater than the number of days regularly scheduled for the performance of duties during such period. For purposes of the preceding sentence, in the case of an employee without a regular work schedule, a plan may provide for the calculation of the number of days of service to be credited to the employee for a period during which no duties are performed on the basis of a 5-day workweek, or may provide for such calculation on any reasonable basis which reflects the average hours worked by the employee, or by other employees in the same job classification, over a representative period of time, provided that the basis so used is consistently applied with respect to all employees in the same job classifications, reasonably defined.

(c) Crediting of days of service to computation periods. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(4) of this section, days of service described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section shall be credited to the computation period in which the duties are performed.

(2) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(4) of this section, days of service described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section shall be credited as follows:

(i) Days of service credited to an employee on account of a payment which is calculated on the basis of units of time, such as days, weeks or months, shall be credited to the computation period or computation periods in which the period during which no duties are performed occurs, beginning with the first unit of time to which the payment relates.

(ii) Days of service credited to an employee by reason of a payment which is not calculated on the basis of units of time shall be credited to the computation period in which the period during which no duties are performed occurs, or if the period during which no duties are performed extends beyond one computation period, such hours of service shall be allocated between not more than the first two computation periods on any reasonable basis which is consistently applied with respect to all employees within the same job classifications, reasonably defined.

(3) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(4) of this section, days of service described in paragraph (a)(3) of this section shall be credited to the computation period or periods to which the award or agreement for back pay pertains, rather than to the computation period in which the award, agreement or payment is made.

(4) In the case of days of service to be credited to an employee in connection with a period of no more than 31 days which extends beyond one computation period, all such days of service may be credited to the first computation period or the second computation period. Crediting of days of service under this paragraph must be done consistently with respect to all employees with the same job classifications, reasonably defined.

(d) Other federal law. Nothing in this section shall be construed to alter, amend, modify, invalidate, impair or supersede any law of the United States or any rule or regulation issued under any such law. Thus, for example, nothing in this section shall be construed as denying an employee credit for a day of service if credit is required by separate federal law. Furthermore, the nature and extent of such credit shall be determined under such law.

(e) Nondaily employees. For maritime employees whose compensation is not determined on the basis of certain amounts for each day worked during a given period, service shall be credited on the basis of hours of service as determined in accordance with § 2530.200b-2(a) (including use of any equivalency permitted under § 2530.200b-3) or on the basis of elapsed time, as permitted under § 2530.200b-9.

(f) Plan document. A plan which credits service on the basis of days of service must state in the plan document the definition of days of service set forth in paragraph (a) of this section, but is not required to state the rules set forth in paragraphs (b) and (c) if they are incorporated by reference.

§ 2530.200b-8 - Determination of days of service to be credited to maritime employees.

(a) General rule. For the purpose of determining the days of service which must be credited to an employee for a computation period, a plan shall determine days of service from records of days worked and days for which payment is made or due. Any records may be used to determine days of service to be credited to employees under a plan, even though such records are maintained for other purposes, provided that they accurately reflect the actual number of days of service with which an employee is required to be credited under § 2530.200b-7(a). Payroll records, for example, may provide sufficiently accurate data to serve as a basis for determining days of service. If, however, existing records do not accurately reflect the actual number of days of service with which an employee is entitled to be credited, a plan must develop and maintain adequate records. A plan may in any case credit days of service under any method which results in the crediting of no less than the actual number of days of service required to be credited under § 2530.200b-7(a) to each employee in a computation period, even though such method may result in the crediting of days of service in excess of the number of days required to be credited under § 2530.200b-7(a). A plan is not required to prescribe in its documents which records are to be used to determine days of service.

(b) Determination of pre-effective date days of service. To the extent that a plan is required to determine days of service completed before the effective date of part 2 of title I of the Act (see section 211 of the Act), the plan may use whatever records may be reasonably accessible to it and may make whatever calculations are necessary to determine the approximate number of hours of service completed before such effective date. For example, if a plan or an employer maintaining the plan has, or has access to, only the records of compensation of employees for the period before the effective date, it may derive the pre-effective date days of service by using the daily rate for the period or the days customarily worked. If accessible records are insufficient to make an approximation of the number of pre-effective date days of service for a particular employee or group of employees, the plan may make a reasonable estimate of the days of service completed by such employee or employees during the particular period. For example, if records are available with respect to some employees, the plan may estimate the days of service of other employees in the same job classification based on these records. A plan may use the elapsed time method prescribed under § 2530.200b-9 to determine days of service completed before the effective date of part 2 of title I of the Act.

§ 2530.201-1 - Coverage; general.

Coverage of the provisions of part 2 of title I of the Act is determined under a multiple step process. First, the plan must be an employee benefit plan as defined under section 3(3) of the Act and § 2510.3-3. (See also the definitions of employee welfare benefit plan, section 3(1) of the Act and § 2510.3-1 and employe pension benefit plan, section 3(2) of the Act and § 2510.3-2). Second, the employee benefit plan must be subject to title I of the Act. Coverage for title I is specified in section 4 of the Act. Third, section 201 of the Act specifies the employee benefit plans subject to title I which are not subject to the minimum standards of part 2 of title I of the Act. Section 2530.201-2 specifies the employee benefit plans subject to title I of the Act which are exempted from coverage under part 2 of title I of the Act and this part (2530).

§ 2530.201-2 - Plans covered by part 2530.

This part (2530) shall apply to any employee benefit plan described in section 4(a) of the Act (and not exempted under section 4(b)) other than -

(a) An employee welfare benefit plan as defined in section 3(1) of the Act and § 2510.3-1;

(b) A plan which is unfunded and is maintained by an employer primarily for the purpose of providing deferred compensation for a select group of management or highly compensated employees;

(c) A plan established and maintained by a society, order, or association described in section 501(c)(8) or (9) of the Code, if no part of the contributions to or under such plan are made by employers of participants in such plan;

(d) A trust described in section 501(c)(18) of the Code;

(e) A plan which is established and maintained by a labor organization described in section 501(c)(5) of the Code and which does not at any time after the date of enactment of the Act provide for employer contributions;

(f) Any agreement providing payments to a retired partner or a deceased partner's successor in interest, as described in section 736 of the Code;

(g) An individual retirement account or annuity described in section 408 of the Code, or a retirement bond described in section 409 of the Code;

(h) An excess benefit plan as described in section 3(36) of the Act.