Our Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice group counsels public and private companies of all sizes and across all industries to help address the full range of legal, financial, and administrative issues relating to their compensation and benefit plans in order to attract, motivate, and retain employees. In tandem with our firm’s national platform, our business-minded attorneys partner with clients to achieve their employee benefit and executive compensation objectives.

Many of our employee benefits professionals have prior backgrounds with well-known actuarial, accounting, and consulting firms, as well as significant in-house experience with the government agencies that enforce the myriad of highly technical laws that apply to companies and their benefit plans. This diverse mix of prior experiences and backgrounds enables our team to provide counseling services that align legal strategies with practical approaches to achieve successful outcomes for our clients.

We represent many companies before the IRS, DOL, and PBGC, enhancing our ability to counsel clients effectively and efficiently through plan audits and other government proceedings. In conjunction with our Labor & Employment and ERISA Litigation practice groups, we routinely advise companies on best practices to forestall or resolve litigation involving their employee benefit plans, often with significant cost savings. In addition, our Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation attorneys are active members in the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (“IFEBP”), and other national associations for human resources and employee benefits professionals, which further adds to the perspectives we bring to our counseling services.

Our team’s experience allows Polsinelli to provide companies with a broad spectrum of services for virtually all types of employee benefits and executive compensation arrangements, including:
  • Tax-qualified retirement plans such as 401(k), 403(b), 457, profit-sharing, cash balance, and traditional defined benefit pension plans.
  • Employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), including counseling on optimal business strategies and tax efficiencies involving the many uses of ESOPs. 
  • Health and welfare plans, including advice on self-funding and stop-loss insurance considerations, as well as the application of HIPAA, COBRA, and other laws.
  • Executive compensation and other non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements, including issues arising under equity-based plans, retention and incentive bonus arrangements, “golden parachute” payments, and individual employment agreements, as well as advice on compliance with Code Sections 83, 280G, and 409A.   
  • Wellness programs, including advice on wellness designs that are geared to achieve ”win-win” situations with improved health outcomes for employees and significant cost savings for employers.
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) counseling, including the myriad of options and compliance strategies for companies to consider for offering health benefits to their employees.
  • Benefit plans covering union employees, including issues arising under multiemployer pension plans relating to withdrawal liability assessments and delinquent contribution demands, as well as collective bargaining strategies for companies to consider.
  • Negotiations with plan service providers, including strategies for companies to obtain cost savings and enhanced commercial terms.
  • Employee benefit and executive compensation issues that arise in corporate transactions, such as mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, spin-offs, bankruptcy proceedings, and financing transactions.
  • ERISA fiduciary obligations and governance procedures around investments and other plan asset issues.
  • For public companies, compliance with Code Section 162(m) for performance-based compensation arrangements and applicable securities laws for the company’s annual proxy statement and other filings that are publicly available to shareholders.
  • Advised publicly-traded company with more than 100,000 employees on Code Section 162(m) issues to ensure corporate deductions for executive bonus payments.
  • Assisted publicly-traded Fortune 500 company with SEC reporting issues for its equity compensation programs and other non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements.
  • Developed unique combinations of qualified and non-qualified retirement plans to maximize IRS contribution limitations but minimize the impact to all employee populations within allowable non-discrimination standards.
  • Created qualified retirement plan vehicles that utilize employer stock investments without compliance challenges experienced under traditional employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) arrangements.
  • Devised cost-effective health care delivery arrangements for clients in the health and welfare area on a self-insured and fully insured basis, factoring in applicable state and federal legal requirements wherever necessary.
  • Coordinated ad hoc benefit review committees and request for proposal processes for union/non-union entities to evaluate existing defined benefit pension and 401(k) and profit sharing plan arrangements. Developed streamlined plan designs that minimize investment and administrative plan costs while also increasing participation and employee education opportunities.
  • Completed more than 200 retirement plan restatements and completed filings with the Internal Revenue Service by deadline to maintain compliance with ongoing requirements of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Assisted a more than 60,000-employee organization with the development of internal policies and procedures and follow-up training seminars for more than 200 human resource and employee benefits personnel when the HIPAA Privacy rules became effective.
  • Coordinated a 2,300-employee organization’s efforts to implement HIPAA-compliant employee wellness initiatives that were successfully approved by the organization’s 13 union representatives, management, and board authorities.
  • Provided guidance on ERISA's fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction rules in all aspects of plan operations, including the investment of plan assets, the engagement of plan service providers, and the proper handling of claims disputes.
  • Provided advice on the development of appropriate investment management and advisory relationships to mitigate fiduciary risk.
  • Assisted with the implementation of financial services products, and other asset-specific portfolios and products to comply with ERISA's fiduciary provisions.
  • Routinely conducted due diligence processes during merger, sale or acquisition scenarios to evaluate ongoing or successor liability issues for existing employee benefit arrangements.
  • Evaluated ongoing defined benefit pension funding obligations for ongoing frozen plan situations and when necessary, interfaced with the Internal Revenue Service and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation regarding applicable plan funding arrangements and notice requirements.
  • Prepared and filed a private letter ruling application with the Internal Revenue Service for a client that wishes to have favorable status recognized for its retirement plans, and have made voluntary compliance filings with the IRS for a separate tax-exempt entity.
  • Working with the Internal Revenue Service’s National Office on separate private letter filings for tax-exempt status for retiree health programs of eight separate governmental organizations.
  • Obtained summary judgment for the Plan, Plan Sponsor and Third-Party Administrator in a long-term disability case involving a claim of several hundred thousand dollars in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
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