Employee Benefits

Our firm has the largest and most experienced employee benefits practice in Arkansas, encompassing more than 1,000 separate benefits and compensation plans. We handle every legal aspect of employee benefits plans, from design, implementation, and administration to compliance audits and mergers and acquisitions.

All members of our practice group have Master of Laws in Taxation degrees.  More importantly, while other firms may address this area of the law with employment lawyers who are not trained in the complexities of tax law, you have the assurance of knowing that our group focuses exclusively on the tax and ERISA (Employee Retirement and Income Security Act) concerns of your unique benefits plan and compensation needs.

Focused on Clients

Employers of all kinds — public, privately held, tax-exempt, and governmental — rely on Friday, Eldredge & Clark to handle their unique employee benefit needs. Our clients based in this state and beyond represent a “who’s who” of leading employers and include:

  • A leading energy utility
  • Banks and bank holding companies
  • A large nationwide department store retailer
  • Food processing companies with regional and national reach
  • The top Arkansas health systems and hospitals
  • Family business interests that own dozens of companies
  • Educational institutions and other not-for-profit organizations (including the State of Arkansas deferred compensation plan)

Our practice includes clients of all sizes. Our clients get the same attention to detail and insightful legal guidance whether they are sole proprietors or large public companies with thousands of employees.

Focused on Services

Our team of attorneys provide help structuring:

  • Private employer plans
  • Tax-exempt organization plans
  • Governmental plans
  • Executive compensation including equity arrangements, bonus programs and deferred non-qualified compensation plans
  • Profit sharing plans
  • 401(k) plans
  • Defined benefit pension plans
  • Cash balance plans
  • Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)
  • Health and welfare plans (including group health plans, cafeteria plans and complex self-funded plans)
  • Non-ERISA tax qualified plans
  • Section 403(b)
  • 457 plans
  • Affordable Care Act
  • HIPAA
  • Wellness compliance
  • Preventative plan reviews and compliance checkup

We provide legal advice to both plan sponsors and fiduciaries on issues including:  

  • Plan design
  • Plan administration
  • Tax qualification
  • Fiduciary duties, advice and training
  • Department of Labor investigations
  • IRS audits
  • DOL and IRS correction and compliance programs

We also offer services to employers including:

  • Negotiating benefits and compensation plans in mergers and acquisitions
  • Manage plan exposure and costs to avoid lawsuits and liabilities
  • Structure plans to save time and money in administration
  • Work to ensure plans and employers comply with ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, Affordable Care Act, HIPAA, COBRA, the Social Security Act, federal employment discrimination, and other federal and state laws and regulations
  • Claim avoidance
  • Risk management
  • Strategy to reduce claims regarding prohibited transactions or breaches of fiduciary duty
  • Defend fiduciaries individually or in class action
  • Response to claims for benefits
  • ERISA preemption issues
  • Qualified domestic relation order

Focused on our Team

The Employee Benefits Practice Group has a combined total of more than 150 years working with employers on their employee benefits needs. The group focuses exclusively on the tax and ERISA (Employee Retirement and Income Security Act) concerns of your unique benefits plan and compensation needs.

Every member of the group has a Master of Laws in Taxation and many are certified public accountants (inactive).

Many members of the Employee Benefits Practice Group are recognized for their work in The Best Lawyers in America, and several have received special recognition from such authoritative organizations as Chambers USA and the American College of Tax Counsel.

Focused on More

Private Employer Plans - Private sector employers need to ensure that the employee benefits plans they implement are well structured, properly documented, and in full compliance with all Department of Labor and IRS regulations.

Tax-exempt Organization Plans - Healthcare providers and other tax-exempt organizations that maintain Section 403(b) retirement plans or programs or nonqualified deferred compensation plans subject to Section 457 – as well as other defined contribution plan opportunities that have been extended to tax-exempt entities – can confidently turn to Friday, Eldredge & Clark for full compliance guidance.

Governmental Plans - The unique complexities in funding and compliance surrounding governmental plans require our special guidance on state law requirements that apply to non-ERISA tax qualified plans, Section 403(b) and 457 plans.

Executive Compensation – Executive compensation arrangements are often at the heart of benefits planning, and we advise companies on all aspects of equity and deferred compensation planning for executives. Our in-depth understanding of tax, accounting, disclosure, and securities considerations allows us to provide the necessary guidance to implement and administer effective equity compensation arrangements, bonus programs, and deferred compensation plans.

Fiduciary Advice and Training - ERISA and state law fiduciary requirements are extremely complex, and we focus on giving you and your organization a clear idea of your responsibilities as fiduciaries.

Governmental Relations - Our firm is an effective advocate on the regulatory and compliance issues that are most important to your organization. Our participation in the IRS Liaison Group for the Gulf Coast Area and the PWBA Dallas Regional Office Practitioner Group gives us important access to those responsible for federal tax laws and regulations. Having extensive dealings with agency personnel at the district/regional level and in Washington, D.C., our team can skillfully represent you as a strong voice in tax and benefits policy.