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Employee Benefits Blog

Insights on Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation

With No Federal Law in Sight, States Continue to Refine Their Own Data Privacy Laws

Posted in Uncategorized Articles

With no Congressional consensus to adopt a federal data privacy and breach notification statute, states are updating and refining their already-existing laws to enact more stringent requirements for companies.  Two states recently passed updated data privacy laws with significant changes.

Read the full post here.


Cracking the Code: Taxing Developments in Benefit Compliance

Posted in Employment, Fiduciary and Investment Issues, Retirement Plans

Generally, any type of organization can offer a defined benefit pension plan under Section 4019a) in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code) or a Code Section 401(k) Plan. However, only employers described in Code Section 501(a) and educational organizations described in Code Section 170(b)(A)(iii) are permitted to sponsor Code Section 403(b) plans. Equally, Code Section 457 plans can only be sponsored by governmental and other organizations exempt from tax under the Code. Until roughly 2009, both Code Sections 403(b) plans and Code Section 457 plans had been basically ignored or overlooked by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and the Department of Labor (“DOL”). However, as these two plans have accumulated significant assets over the course of time (many occurring due to the consolidation of large plans in the healthcare sector through business combinations), the IRS and DOL have deemed it necessary to start taking a closer look. The audits of Code Section 403(b) plans and Code Section 457 plans has increased dramatically in the last few years to the point where the IRS has now issued its “top ten list” of issues which tax-exempt entities need to focus on when sponsoring these types of plans.

Read the full article from the Journal of Compensation and Benefits.

(c)2015 ThomsonReuters, reprinted with permission.

What Private Equity Funds Should Know About ERISA

Posted in Employment, Fiduciary and Investment Issues

Managers of private equity funds who are responsible for investing the assets of a fund that holds plan assets are likely to be considered a fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA). ERISA imposes numerous duties on fiduciaries, and those who fail to meet ERISA’s standards may be personally liable to restore plan losses, disgorge profits made through the use of plan assets, and pay additional statutory penalties imposed by the Department of Labor. The fiduciary may also face criminal penalties if found guilty of wilful failure. It is therefore vitally important that fiduciaries are fully aware of all their duties under ERISA.

Read the full article.

California Amends Its Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Law

Posted in Employee Benefits, Employment, Executive Compensation, Health and Welfare Plans, Labor

As previously reported, California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (California’s Sick Leave Law) took full effect on July 1, 2015, although some provisions were effective as of January 1, 2015. The new law generally requires most employers to allow employees to accrue paid sick leave. This On the Subject discussed requirements employers must meet, including Assembly Bill 304, which amends California’s Sick Leave Law to make immediate changes.

 Read the full article.

SEC Finalizes Rules Regarding Disclosure of CEO Pay Ratio—What They Require, What to Do and What’s Next

Posted in Executive Compensation

In yet another divisive 3-2 vote along party lines, on August 6, 2015, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted final rules requiring public companies (other than emerging-growth companies, smaller reporting companies and foreign private issuers) to disclose the ratio of the compensation of its chief executive officer to the median compensation of its employees (CEO Pay Ratio). The new rules were mandated under Section 953(a) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Read the full article.

Affordable Care Act Reporting Penalties Significantly Increased

Posted in Employment, Health and Welfare Plans

On June 29, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Trade Preferences Extension Act (the Act) into law. In addition to containing several revenue offsets, the Act significantly increased penalties for incorrect information returns, including those required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may impose penalties for both failing to file and filing incorrect or incomplete information returns and/or payee statements after the due dates for such forms pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 6721 and 6722. These penalty provisions apply to a variety of information reporting requirements including Forms W-2 and 1099, and now more recently to Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C, and 1095-C relating to compliance with the ACA.

Read the full article.

IRS Announces Major Changes to Its Determination Letter Program for Individually Designed Retirement Plans

Posted in Benefit Controversies, Labor, Retirement Plans

On July 21, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Announcement 2015-19 (the Announcement), which ends the five-year remedial amendment cycles for individually designed plans effective January 1, 2017.  For remedial amendment cycles beginning after 2016, plan sponsors will no longer be able to apply for determination letters on their individually designed defined contribution and defined benefit plans, except for initial qualification and qualification upon termination. Effective on the Announcement date, off-cycle requests for determination letters will no longer be accepted. The IRS intends to publish additional guidance periodically, and seeks comments on the upcoming changes.

Click here to read the full On the Subject.

Independent Contractor and Exempt Employee Classification Review Should Include Joint-Employer Status

Posted in Employment, Labor

Recent independent-contractor misclassification guidelines, and proposed changes to the overtime rules by the U.S. Department of Labor, underscore that employers should be reviewing their independent-contractor classifications and wage and hour exempt-employee classifications. But even if an employer has correctly classified its own workforce, it still may be held responsible for a variety of employment liabilities if it is found to be a ‘joint employer’ with another company which has misclassified its workers. This On the Subject provides practical tips for avoiding joint-employer arrangements.

Read the full article.

China Issues New Guiding Opinions for Public Hospital Reform

Posted in Employee Benefits

In order to direct the ongoing reform of Chinese public hospitals, the Chinese central government recently issued the Guiding Opinions on Pilot Comprehensive Reform of Urban Public Hospitals, which highlight various strategies to replace the current profit-driven model, reduce patients’ medical expenditures, improve the current management system, establish appropriate remuneration mechanisms to motivate medical personnel, and optimize the distribution of medical resources.

Read the full article here.


WEBCAST: The Future of Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses and Partners

Posted in Employee Benefits, Employment

Thursday, July 30, 2015
12:00 – 1:00 pm EDT

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that it is unconstitutional for a state to ban same-sex couples from exercising the fundamental right to marry. All states are now required to permit same-sex couples to marry and to recognize same-sex marriages validly entered into in other jurisdictions.

McDermott Will & Emery invites you to a live webcast to discuss the impact of this landmark decision on employee benefit plan sponsors and to address key considerations for employer-provided plans, including:

  • An up-to-date description of federal and state taxation of health and welfare benefits
  • A summary of steps employers must take in light of the Supreme Court’s decision
  • The future of employee benefits for unmarried same-sex and opposite-sex partners

Click here to view the event listing.