What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Phantom Equity Plan?

I was recently asked to describe the advantages and disadvantages of a phantom equity plan. Phantom equity plans are particularly useful for private companies without publicly traded shares of stock.  Privately held companies have unique organizational traits that require a substantially different approach to executive compensation. Often, executive compensation arrangements that are appropriate in a publicly Read More

What Relief Is Provided Under the Employer ‘Pay or Play’ Mandate Final Regulations?

On February 10, 2014, the Department of Treasury (the "Treasury") and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final regulations on the requirement that employers provide affordable health insurance to employees (the "Employer Mandate") and the associated "Pay or Play" penalty under health care reform.  This HR Alert provides a summary of the transitional relief available during 2015 under the final Read More

What Are Some Employer Best Practices for Managing a DOL Audit?

Most employer ERISA pension and welfare benefit plans are subject to investigation by the Department of Labor (DOL).  The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is the agency of the DOL responsible for enforcing Title I of ERISA (which sets minimum standards to ensure that employee benefit plans are maintained in a fair and financially sound manner), including managing civil and criminal investigations. Read More

What Are the 2014 Cost of Living Adjustments for Retirement and Health and Welfare Plans?

The following provides a summary of the dollar limits applicable to retirement plans, health and welfare benefits and the social security wage base for the 2014 tax year. Retirement Plans  The dollar limits applicable to retirement plans for the 2014 tax year are as follows: Elective Deferrals:$17,500 (unchanged from 2013) Catch-Up Contributions: $5,500 (unchanged from 2013) Total Annual Read More

What is the Safe Harbor Method for Determining FTE Status for Ongoing Employees?

The requirement that employers provide affordable health insurance to employees (the "Employer Mandate") and the associated "pay or play" penalty under health care reform has been delayed until 2015. Whether an employer is subject to the Employer Mandate along with the amount of the Employer Mandate penalty (if any) will be determined by the number of an employer's full-time employees (FTEs). The Department of Read More

When Should a Company Consider Restricted Stock Grants to Executives?

Restricted stock grants (RSGs) are one of the most common forms of equity compensation in publicly traded companies. More than two-thirds of large publicly traded companies and half of small companies use RSGs. Generally, restricted stock grants provide executives grants of shares of stock that are subject to forfeiture unless certain conditions are satisfied.  The shares become available to the executive as the Read More

Business Associates and Business Associate Contracts

An HR Director recently asked me (i) how to determine if an entity is a business associate and (ii) what terms should be included in a business associate agreement? Who is a Business Associate? Generally, a business associate is a person who, on behalf of a health plan, and in a capacity other than as part of the covered entity’s workforce: performs or assists in performing a function or activity involving the Read More

Frequency of HIPAA Privacy Training

I was recently asked how often an employer is required to provide HIPAA privacy training to employees. It does not appear that the regulations specify a certain training frequency or content. Instead, the regulations generally state that a "covered entity" train all members of it's workforce on the covered entity's privacy policies and procedures, as necessary and appropriate for the members of the workforce to Read More