Employee Benefits

Employee Benefits

In an environment of ever-increasing competitive and financial pressures, as well as constant legislative and regulatory change, the design and administration of employee benefit plans have become a critical, but complex, effective and efficient part of doing business. Employers must design competitive benefits packages that work for their employees and meet the financial bottom-line. Once programs are in place, employers must continue to monitor and redesign those programs to keep pace with changes in government mandates, legal requirements, and their ever-changing financial and competitive needs.

The Employee Benefits Practice Group of Hunton & Williams LLP brings to the table in-depth experience, as well as a broad range of resources, in the employee benefits arena. From the most simple and straightforward 401(k) plan to complex multi-formula defined benefit pension plans, our group's extensive experience and capabilities are on-call for our clients. We have assisted clients in the design, implementation and ongoing administration of all types of benefit programs, including:

  • 401(k), cash balance, 403(b) and other "qualified" retirement plans,
  • executive and other "nonqualified" deferred compensation programs,
  • equity-based compensation arrangements, and
  • health and welfare benefit programs.

We also regularly advise businesses on the transition of benefit programs in mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, outsourcings and other transactions. In addition, our lawyers have worked with clients in addressing the employee benefit aspects of employment, severance and other executive agreements, ranging from the simplest contract to the most complex senior-level executive arrangements. We also have broad experience in dealing with governmental agencies such as the IRS, DOL and PBGC. In fact, some of our lawyers were previously employed at these agencies giving us both first-hand knowledge of the regulators, and the ability to provide our clients with important practical insights in dealing with them.

Extensive Capabilities
Our employee benefits lawyers have worked with clients in the design, implementation and operation of numerous benefits programs in the following areas:

  • Retirement Plans
    • 401(k) Plans
    • Cash Balance Plans (Including Cash Balance Conversions)
    • Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)
    • Profit Sharing Plans
    • Traditional Defined Benefit Plans
    • Collectively Bargained (Union) Plans
  • Health and Welfare Plans
    • Cutting Edge Health Care Reform Issues
    • Section 125 Cafeteria Plans
    • Traditional Healthcare Plans
    • HSAs and HRAs
    • COBRA Compliance
    • HIPAA Compliance
    • Compliance and Coordination with Medicare (Including Medicare D)
  • Executive and Other Deferred Compensation
    • At the Forefront of Issues Involving Code Sections 409A, 162(m) and 280G
    • Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Plans
    • Retirement and Other Restoration Programs
    • Supplemental Executive Retirement Plans (SERPs)
    • Executive Employment Agreements
    • Severance/Retention Agreements
  • Equity-Based Compensation
    • Stock-Based Compensation Plans (ISOs, NQSOs, Restricted Stock and RSUs)
    • Employee Stock Purchase Plans
    • Other Equity-Based Arrangements (SARs & Phantom Stock)
  • Plan Documentation
    • Preparation of plan documents in compliance with legal requirements
    • Preparation of summary plan descriptions, summary of material modifications, employee notifications and communications
    • Plan qualification process with IRS
    • Annual plan reporting requirements (Form 5500)
  • Business Transactions
    • Employee Benefits Due Diligence
    • Design and Transition of Benefit Programs and Executive Arrangements
    • ESOP Leveraged Buyouts
  • General Fiduciary Issues
    • Advising Administrative and Compensation Committees in the Post-Enron Era
    • Fiduciary Concerns Relating to Plan Investments and the Use of Plan Assets
  • Claims and Governmental Proceedings
    • ERISA Claims Review and Claims Denials
    • Internal Revenue Service/Department of Labor/PBGC Audits
    • Internal Revenue Service/Department of Labor Voluntary Correction Programs

Wide-Ranging Experience
Our extensive knowledge and experience with a wide variety of issues has enabled us to stay on the cutting edge of employee benefits law. Hunton & Williams employee benefits lawyers frequently participate as speakers at seminars sponsored by Bar and other professional associations for lawyers, accountants and consultants. Our lawyers also often appear as panelists in conferences for business and financial leaders. They have long been active on Bar Association committees, especially in the American Bar Association's Tax and Business Law Sections. Two of our lawyers have served as chair of the Employee Benefits Committee of the ABA's Tax Section.

In addition to the broad experience of our lawyers, the diversity of our clientele bolsters our ability to provide creative solutions for any client's needs. We represent clients across the spectrum of industries and businesses (ranging from Fortune 500 companies to a wide variety of tax exempt and governmental employers), with employees ranging from the hundreds to the tens of thousands. With this level of activity and diversity, all of our clients benefit from our capability to identify new issues and trends, and successfully address any potential legal hurdles.