You can count on Herrick's counsel in the highly important and often contentious area of executive compensation, and employee benefits and programs.

Most corporate transactions involve intricate executive compensation and employee benefits issues. We can help you analyze and negotiate these issues, which are key components of any purchase, sale, merger or consolidation. Executive compensation and employee benefits are also vital to attracting and retaining the talent your business needs to thrive. We stay on top of the constantly changing laws and regulations that govern employee benefits, and we thoroughly analyze newly adopted laws, regulations and agency pronouncements to keep you ahead of the curve on changes that could impact your business. Our experience covers the design and administration of a range of single, multiple and multi-employer employee benefit programs and plans, including:

  • Nonqualified deferred compensation plans
  • Pension and profit-sharing plans
  • Executive compensation
  • ERISA litigation
  • Insured and self-funded plans
  • Health and welfare benefit plans
  • Plan investments and fiduciary liability issues
  • Benefits issues arising in connection with mergers, acquisitions and divestitures
  • Equity-based plans including qualified and nonqualified stock option plans
  • COBRA, HIPAA and FMLA issues
  • Fringe benefits
  • Affordable Care Act

Plan Design

Herrick can help you structure and coordinate defined benefit plans, including traditional pension plans and cash balance retirement plans, and also defined contribution retirement plans, such as 401(k) and money purchase pension plans. We design benefit plans to allow significant accumulation of retirement assets in a short period of time. We can help you structure defined contribution plans to provide participants with their own investment choices that can reduce your fiduciary responsibility under ERISA. We also advise on the coordination of an employer's qualified plans with appropriate executive compensation packages, including equity-based compensation arrangements, such as qualified and non-qualified stock options, restricted stock agreements and stock appreciation rights, and non-qualified deferred compensation program.

Qualified Plans

Once you have a plan, we can assist with day-to-day administration, including the review and preparation of employee communication materials, responses to benefit claims and appeals, and dealing with matters involving the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

We can also work with you to conduct a self-audit of your qualified plans to ensure compliance, and where appropriate, prepare and submit requests for relief under the IRS' Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) and the DOL's Voluntary Fiduciary Correction (VFC) Program and Delinquent Filer Voluntary Correction (DFVC) Program.

We work extensively with third-party administrators and consulting benefit and actuarial firms, which provide maintenance services for your employee benefit arrangements. We help these advisors with plan design, document preparation and fiduciary responsibility issues. So we'll be there for your administrators, too, when they need responses to specific questions referred to them.

Non-Qualified Plans

Herrick helps design, structure and negotiate supplemental executive compensation arrangements. These "nonqualified" plans are an increasingly important aspect of executive compensation, as limits on qualified plans grow more restrictive relative to the increase in compensation paid to top-level management. They often arise in the context of:

  • Acquisitions or divestitures
  • Hiring or termination of executives
  • Implementation of equity-based or other incentive pay plans

Herrick can advise you on the various options available for funding these compensation arrangements, taking into consideration the tax goals of both the employer and the employee.

Fiduciary Responsibility

Herrick provides the support you need to comply with ERISA's complex fiduciary responsibility and prohibited transaction rules, related to the investment of pension assets in sophisticated investment products. For example, we often counsel employers that want to invest assets subject to ERISA, or managers seeking to structure products appropriate for ERISA investors.

Compliance & Administration

You can rely on Herrick for guidance on the day-to-day administration of benefits plans, interaction with third party administrators, and in conducting self-audits of your qualified plans to ensure compliance. We review and prepare employee communication materials, and respond to benefit claims and appeals. We represent our clients before the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.