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A Living Wage: The Latest ESG Challenge for Corporate Governance

Long considered controversial from economic and shareholder perspectives, living wage concepts are receiving more attention in the context of economic policy, social responsibility and ESG investing. As progressive perspectives concerning income equality, and executive and employee compensation, are becoming more mainstream, corporate leaders should prepare for greater engagement in this important conversation.

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Employee Rewards in M&A Transactions: Comparability Provisions

Companies enter into merger & acquisition (M&A) deals for a range of reasons, but how employees are treated once a deal closes depends largely on the buyer’s deal strategy. Often the buyer signs a deal under the promise that the acquired business’ employees will continue to receive rewards at deal close that are comparable to those they received before, at least for a specified period of time. But why include such comparability provisions in deal terms given that they appear to restrict the buyer? What do these provisions typically cover? And what are best practices?

Willis Tower Watson recently tapped law firms with leading M&A advisory teams, including McDermott’s Carole Spink, to dig into the answers.

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VIDEO: What’s New for Executive Compensation This Proxy Season


With a new election and administration, there also are projected impacts on proxy preparation for 2021 and beyond. McDermott partner Andrew Liazos, member and immediate past chair of the ABA’s National Institute of Executive Compensation, led a discussion together with Sharon S. Briansky, associate general counsel and secretary at Thermo Fisher Scientific along with Bindu Culas, managing director at F.W. Cook. Topics addressed include: adjustments to existing short- and long-term incentive awards, the use of new performance metrics for social justice and environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG), new human capital disclosures for 2021, the impact of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) policy changes on compensation and disclosure practices and what to consider when requesting shares for equity plans in the current environment.


 

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Securing Retirement: Additional SECURE Act and Miners Act Guidance for Retirement Plans

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued practical and helpful guidance in a question-and-answer format for tax-qualified retirement plans and for an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA), regarding the legislative changes under the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (the “SECURE Act”) and the Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019 (the “Miners Act”).

Teal Trujillo, an incoming associate in our Chicago office, also contributed to this On the Subject.

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UK Tax Perspective on Expatriates Working Abroad

UK employees “working from anywhere” face fines or investigations from foreign tax authorities if they stay too long, become a resident in a foreign country for tax purposes and fail to declare their UK incomes. In some cases, they could also be hit with double taxation on the same earnings.

In a recent article in The Daily Telegraph, McDermott partner Simon Goldring advises employees to consider the tax implications of extended “work from home” abroad.

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More Caring: New CARES Act Guidance for Retirement and Nonqualified Plans

New Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance expands the availability of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) distributions and loans under eligible retirement plans, and it provides important clarifications regarding how to administer and report CARES Act distributions and loans. The guidance also provides welcome relief for a participant who receives a CARES Act distribution, allowing the participant to revoke an otherwise irrevocable salary deferral election under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan. Finally, consistent with prior guidance, the new IRS guidance confirms that CARES Act provisions are optional, meaning that plan sponsors may choose whether to implement CARES Act changes.

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Treasury/IRS Release Proposed Regulations on Section 4960 Excise Tax

The US Department of the Treasury has released long-expected proposed regulations regarding the section 4960 excise tax on certain remuneration or separation amounts paid to the five highest paid employees of a tax-exempt organization. The new proposed regulations continue the tough approach previously taken on section 4960 issues, while also providing some new exceptions and important clarifications.

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Reassessing Executive Compensation and Benefits in Tax-Exempt Organizations as the COVID-19 Crisis Deepens

Hospitals, health systems and other tax-exempt organizations are responding to a longer and deeper economic crisis by making or considering significant changes to their executive compensation and executive benefit programs. The economic crisis, and these executive compensation and benefit changes, have far-reaching implications for the ongoing work of the board’s compensation committee. We want to provide this review of what we see happening “on the ground” as the crisis continues.

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COVID-19 FAQs: For Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation

Coronavirus (COVID-19) raises serious concerns for employers of all shapes and sizes, across all industries and in every business sector. As the impact of COVID-19 continues to grow, many employers are faced with new challenges that affect not only their businesses and their employees, but the health and welfare, retirement and executive compensation plans and programs on which those employees rely. These new issues are arising in addition to the myriad benefit plan challenges that employers face each day.

We address a number of frequently asked questions regarding health and welfare, retirement and executive compensation issues in the COVID-19 era. This includes not only questions about issues employers are currently facing, but questions about issues employers may face going forward. Given the rapidly evolving nature of the crisis, McDermott’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation team will periodically update these FAQs to provide you with the most up-to-date information. We will also continue to keep you informed of the latest developments and provide comprehensive insights to help you navigate these and related concerns.

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