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Evaluating Performance Goals and Incentive Compensation in Light of COVID-19

Boards and compensation committees will be reevaluating their incentive compensation arrangements in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting market uncertainty. Both long-term and short-term incentive plans can lose motivational and retention value if the performance goals are unachievable or if they do not align with market reality. Companies that have not yet established performance goals for their 2020 equity and bonus awards should carefully consider market conditions and shareholder perception before establishing goals, focusing on motivating their executives with pay for performance that aligns with shareholders?ÇÖ interests, while giving the company flexibility to navigate through uncharted territory. To the extent possible, companies should also consider delaying the issuance of incentive compensation awards until there is more stability in the business and in the financial markets. Companies that have already established goals for their 2020 awards (or that are evaluating the continued effectiveness of performance goals for prior year… Continue Reading

Health and Welfare Issues and COVID-19: Reminder: Decrease in Pay/Hours Does Not Permit Dropping Health Plan Coverage If There is No Loss of Eligibility

As many employers reduce employees?ÇÖ work hours, employers should consider that employees will remain responsible for their health plan contributions even though their pay is decreasing. As long as eligibility for coverage does not change, an employee is not permitted to change his or her health plan elections due solely to the decrease in pay or hours. One exception to this general rule is a change in status event created in connection with the Affordable Care Act, which provides that, in certain circumstances, an employee with reduced work hours may drop health plan coverage if the employee enrolls in other health plan coverage. Because the reduced pay may not cover all payroll deductions, employers should consider adopting a priority order for payroll deductions (e.g., health plan deductions are made before 401(k) plan deductions). In addition, an employer may want to consider a waiver of premiums, which is permitted if done… Continue Reading

Stop-Lost: Common Issues That May Cause Gaps in Your Stop-Loss Coverage

Once an employer is comfortable it can handle some exposure to fluctuating claims costs, it may opt to self-insure its group health plan in order to save money in the long run by avoiding paying the profit margin insurance carriers build into the premiums of fully-insured coverage. Some employers will forego some of the expected savings and purchase stop-loss coverage from an insurance carrier to help limit claims cost volatility. Under a stop-loss insurance policy, the insurance carrier will reimburse claims costs that exceed an agreed-upon dollar threshold. The employer is usually the insured on the stop-loss policy, although sometimes the group health plan itself is the insured under the policy instead. There are two primary types of stop-loss coverage: (i) individual; and (ii) aggregate. Stop-loss coverage will always include individual stop-loss and frequently includes aggregate coverage. (i) Individual stop-loss ?Çô Also referred to as specific stop-loss, individual stop-loss coverage… Continue Reading

Treasury Issues Regulations Clarifying that Partners Providing Services to a Disregarded Entity Owned by the Partnership are Treated as Self-Employed

The U.S. Treasury Department recently issued proposed and temporary regulations clarifying that partners of a partnership providing services to a disregarded entity that is owned by the partnership are treated as self-employed, and not employees of the disregarded entity. Under current treasury regulations, a disregarded entity may be treated as a corporation for employment tax and employee benefit plan purposes, provided that the rule doesn?ÇÖt apply to the single owner that operates the disregarded entity as a sole proprietorship. In response to certain practitioners interpreting the regulation to permit partners to be treated as employees of the disregarded entity and allowing such partners to participate in a disregarded entity?ÇÖs tax-favored employee benefit plans, the Treasury Department issued these regulations to clarify that if a partnership is the owner of a disregarded entity, the partners of such partnership are subject to the same self-employment tax rules as if they directly owned… Continue Reading

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