If your employer provides a retirement fund, you need to understand that your employer is a separate legal entity to the fund, and the fund is regulated by a different set of laws to the employer.
A retirement fund is managed by its board of trustees and, in most cases, an administrator. The fund's rules and Pension Funds Act (PFA) determine the scope in which the administrators, board and trustees may act in administering funds.
Whereas the relationship between an employer and an employee is regulated by the Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Employment Equity Act, the relationship between the fund and the employee is regulated by the PFA and the rules of the fund.
The only legal obligation that may arise on behalf of an employer which has contractually elected to provide an employee with retirement benefits is to make payment of the required contributions on behalf of the employee to the fund, and after the employer has paid the necessary monthly contribution to the fund on behalf of the employee it has few remaining obligations to the employee.
The savings accumulated in a fund are dependent on the contributions made to the fund, which can be made by the employer, the employee or both. Upon termination of the employee's employment with the employer, the fund (and not the employer) has the legal obligation to pay out benefits that accrue to the fund member.