Labor, Employment and Benefits

Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation

Wiggin and Dana's Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice Group has been providing comprehensive services to a diverse client base for over 35 years. Drawing upon our extensive technical expertise and practical experience, we counsel clients in the design, implementation, and operation of a wide variety of plans and arrangements to meet evolving business needs in an ever more complex regulatory environment. Our clients include taxable, tax-exempt, and governmental employers as well as fiduciaries and administrators. We represent publicly and privately held companies and charitable organizations, including financial institutions, hospitals, universities, and schools. We advise clients in the following areas.

Executive Compensation
Our Executive Compensation group integrates lawyers from the firm's Employee Benefits, Corporate Securities, Emerging Companies, and Tax groups for seamless advice to our clients on a wide range of executive compensation issues. We assist in the design, implementation, and operation of

Non-qualified Deferred Compensation Plans
Our attorneys counsel clients with respect to the design, implementation, and termination of supplemental executive retirement plans, excess plans, Section 457(b) and 457(f) arrangements, golden parachutes, and other non-qualified deferred compensation vehicles, along with associated funding mechanisms such as rabbi and secular trusts and split-dollar life insurance. We have extensive experience pertaining to Section 409A tax compliance.

Equity and Incentive Compensation Arrangements
We advise clients on the design and operation of equity incentive plans, including qualified and non-qualified stock options, restricted stock and stock units, stock appreciation, performance unit and phantom plans, employee stock purchase plans, and cash bonus arrangements. We work closely with attorneys from our Corporate Securities Department to ensure compliance with applicable securities registration, disclosure, and reporting requirements.

Employment, Change of Control, Reductions in Force, Retention, and Severance Agreements
We counsel employers and executives in the creation and negotiation of employment, severance, and similar agreements. This includes advice on excess parachute payments under Section 280G and deduction limitations under Section 162(m). We work with our clients in designing and implementing early-retirement incentives and downsizing packages, enabling employers to achieve their economic goals while complying with complex non-discrimination and employment law requirements.

Employee Benefits
Our Employee Benefits group provides advice on the full array of employee benefit plans. We assist in the design, implementation, and operation of

Tax-qualified Retirement Plans
Our attorneys have expertise in all aspects of establishing, maintaining, and terminating 401(k) and profit sharing plans, 403(b) plans, ESOPs, and cash balance and traditional defined benefit plans, including IRS determination letter filings. We regularly assist employers in successfully navigating IRS and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) plan correction programs so that plans can remain tax-qualified despite a complex regulatory environment. We help our clients evaluate the funded status of their defined benefit plans and craft arrangements intended to reduce their long-term plan liabilities. We represent clients before the IRS, the DOL, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Multiemployer Pension Plans
We advise employers in evaluating and negotiating collectively bargained multiemployer pension plan withdrawal liability and in helping them to avoid incurring such liability in the context of corporate transactions.

Welfare, Fringe, and Flexible Benefit Plans
We provide counsel regarding health, life, disability, and other employee "welfare" benefits, including retiree medical benefit liabilities, and compliance with the Affordable Care Act, COBRA, HIPAA, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the ADA, the Mental Health Parity and Additional Equity Act, and other federal and state laws affecting welfare benefit plans. We work with employers, insurers, and TPAs to ensure documentary and operational compliance with tax, labor, and other requirements. We assist in the design and implementation of traditional insured and self-insured group health plans, as well as HRAs, HSAs, and wellness plans.

We have expertise in creating flexible benefit plans, including medical and dependent care flexible spending accounts and premium conversion plans, and in the design and operation of various types of fringe-benefit plans.

Erisa Fiduciary and Investment Management Counseling
We assist plan fiduciaries in choosing service providers, and we advise about complying with service provider and participant fee disclosure rules, permissible payment of plan expenses and prohibited transaction rules, and compliance with ERISA Section 404(c) regarding participant-directed investments. We also counsel investment fund administrators and fiduciaries regarding the plan asset rules relating to benefit plan investors, and applicable fiduciary and prohibited transaction rules.

Employee Benefits and Compensation in Corporate Transactions
We regularly advise clients on the employee benefit and executive compensation aspects of mergers, acquisitions, spinoffs, and similar transactions. Our attorneys analyze liabilities, such as defined benefit plan, retiree medical, multiemployer plan, severance, and COBRA, and negotiate employee benefit representations and covenants. We also assist clients in integrating, streamlining, and communicating cost-effective employee benefit packages in the wake of a transaction.

Erisa Litigation
We work with Wiggin and Dana's litigation group in defending employers and fiduciaries in ERISA actions on such matters such as benefits claims and fiduciary breaches, and in handling employee benefit plans in bankruptcy proceedings.

Health Care Reform Planning and Compliance
Our multi-disciplinary health care reform practice comprises attorneys from the benefits and compensation, tax, and health law groups to provide breadth and depth in assisting our clients to meet the many challenges posed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.