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EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Our firm has the largest and most experienced Employee Benefits Practice Group in Arkansas, and one of the largest in the south, with seven lawyers responsible for more than 1,000 separate employee benefit and compensation plans. We handle every legal aspect of employee benefit plans, from design, implementation, and administration to compliance audits, government audits and investigations, fiduciary issues and employee benefits in mergers and acquisitions. 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 practice group focuses exclusively on the tax and ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) concerns of your unique employee benefit 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:

  • State and regional energy utilities
  • Banks and bank holding companies
  • A large regional department store retailer
  • Food processing companies with regional and national reach
  • The largest Arkansas health systems and hospitals
  • Family business interests with ownership of multiple entities
  • Professional practice groups
  • Educational institutions and other not-for-profit organizations
  • Governmental entities (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

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

Tax-exempt Organization Plans - Healthcare providers and other tax-exempt organizations that maintain IRC Section 403(b) retirement plans or programs or nonqualified deferred compensation plans subject to IRC 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 design and compliance guidance.

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

Executive Compensation – We advise companies on all aspects of equity and deferred compensation planning for executives. Our in-depth understanding of tax, including IRC Section 409A compliance, 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 and the best practices for ERISA governance.

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.

Our team of attorneys provides advice structuring:

  • Private employer plans
  • Tax-exempt organization plans
  • Governmental plans
  • Executive compensation plans  (including equity arrangements, bonus programs and deferred non-qualified compensation plans)
  • Profit-sharing plans
  • IRC Section 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
  • IRC Section 403(b) plans
  • IRC Section 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 a class action
  • Response to claims for benefits
  • ERISA preemption issues
  • Qualified domestic relation orders

Focused on our Team

The Employee Benefits Practice Group has a combined total of more than 150 years of experience 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). Most 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 and Partners and the American College of Tax Counsel.

 

Employee Benefits

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