SEC Approves Nasdaq’s Board Diversity Rules

On August 6, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) adopted the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC’s (“Nasdaq”) proposed board diversity rule. The rule is intended to encourage greater board diversity by requiring board diversity disclosures for Nasdaq-listed companies. As explained in more detail in our Fall 2021 Corporate Communicator, the new diversity rule does not mandate quota’s or specific numeric targets for achieving diversity on corporate boards. Rather, the new rule establishes a disclosure framework based on a minimum diversity objective and can be characterized as a “comply or explain” model.

For those interested in learning more about the proposed board diversity rule and diversity, equity and inclusion more broadly, please join me and my partner Marian Zapata-Rossa and the Phoenix Chapter of NASPP on September 29, 2021 from 12:00pm – 1pm PST for a presentation on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the 2021 Workplace. Read More ›

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Departments Provide Some Relief to Health Plan Sponsors Facing Looming Year-End Deadlines

Year-end is always a scramble for health plan sponsors as they go through renewal and open enrollment.  This year was looking to be worse than normal given the impending deadlines for complying with the transparency in coverage regulations (“TiC”) and the numerous changes made by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the “CAA”).  As reflected in our February 16, 2021 blog, Buckle Up! Complying with the Health & Welfare Provisions of the CAA Could be a Wild Ride, most of the CAA deadlines were scheduled to take effect December 27, 2021 or the first plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2022, giving plan sponsors and their service providers scant time to comply. Read More ›

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Better Late Than Never: IRS Issues Guidance Clarifying COBRA Premium Subsidy Rules

S&W Insight: The IRS clarified several trailing issues with respect to COBRA premium subsidies under the American Rescue Plan Act, including extended election periods, eligibility for other coverage, and rules about allocating premium credits among employers. In addition, a notice deadline is on the horizon.

Many employers have been grappling with the ramifications of the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) since it was enacted earlier this year. Among other provisions, ARPA provided a temporary subsidy for certain insurance premiums under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (“COBRA”).

We previously summarized this relief in the following SW Benefits Updates: “Help Is on the Way – Important Changes to COBRA under the American Rescue Plan Act,” “DOL Clarifies Key Provisions, Issues Model Notices for COBRA Relief under ARPA,” and “Ironing Out the Wrinkles – IRS Answers 86 Questions about COBRA Relief under the American Rescue Plan Act. Read More ›

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Not All Surprises Are Good – Phase I of the Surprise Billing Rules

On July 1, 2021, the Office of Personnel Management, Department of the Treasury, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Labor issued the interim final rule “Requirements Related to Surprise Billing; Part I” (the “IFR”), which is the first phase of regulations implementing the No Surprises Act. The No Surprises Act provides certain protections against surprise medical bills and was signed into law on December 27, 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

The No Surprises Act and the IFR do not completely eliminate surprise billing, but they provide relief from some of the more common scenarios when an individual may experience high and unexpected medical costs. Read More ›

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Updated Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plan Audit Guide

In June the Internal Revenue Service released an updated Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Audit Technique Guide. This updated Guide replaces the initial Guide published in 2015. While it is too early to say whether the release of the updated guidance signals increased audit activity by the Service in the nonqualified plan space, plan sponsors of nonqualified deferred compensation plans may want to consider reading the updated guidance to re-familiarize themselves with the underpinnings of Section 409A of the Code. 

The updated Guide is written in a conversational style and provides a very good outline of key deferred compensation principles. While it may not provide new information for individuals that regularly practice in this space, it will almost certainly be a good initial read for those that are not familiar with Section 409A of the Code or for those that do not regularly work with deferred compensation programs.  Read More ›

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For the Long Haul: SCOTUS Ruling Means ACA Coverage and Reporting Rules Here to Stay

Despite myriad legal challenges, the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) remains the law of the land. We previously reported on the Supreme Court’s latest validation of the law in our SW Benefits Update, “Three Strikes You’re Out – The Affordable Care Act Survives a Third Legal Challenge.

The Court’s ruling means that employers and their group health plans must continue to comply with the requirements of the ACA, including its large employer shared responsibility provisions. For employers evaluating their ACA compliance strategies, here is a short refresher:

Large Employer Shared Responsibility Payments: Large employers can be subject to penalties if any full-time employee receives a premium tax credit and either (a) the employer fails to offer minimum essential coverage (“MEC”) to 95% of its full-time employees (and their dependents) or (b) the coverage is either not affordable or does not provide minimum value. Read More ›

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CalCurrent Podcast and Equity Compensation for Startups

On May 13, 2021, Phoenix executive compensation and employee benefits partner, Greg Gautam, joined Snell & Wilmer’s “CalCurrent” podcast.  On his episode,  Greg covered five common pitfalls private companies and startup companies should watch out for when structuring their equity compensation and incentive programs.  You can listen to Greg’s full CalCurrent episode here if you are interested in learning more about these common mistakes, and more importantly, tips on how to avoid them. Read More ›

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Subsidized COBRA Elections under ARPA Override COBRA Election Deadline Extensions

As detailed in our SW Benefits Update, Ironing Out the Wrinkles – IRS Answers 86 Questions About COBRA Relief Under the American Rescue Plan Act,” the IRS recently released Notice 2021-31 (the “Notice”), providing welcome guidance on the COBRA election and subsidy requirements under the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”).  As mentioned in that SW Benefits Update, the Notice included some unexpected guidance regarding the impact of ARPA COBRA elections on the COBRA election deadline extensions under the Joint Notice and EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 (the “Disaster Relief”).

In part, the Notice provides that an individual who elects subsidized COBRA coverage under ARPA, effective April 1, 2021, must also elect or decline COBRA coverage retroactive to their loss of coverage before April 1, 2021 (if applicable).   Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Health & Welfare Plans

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In Case You Missed It – Key 2021 Employee Benefits Topics

This year is off to a fast start and plan sponsors might find their heads spinning as they try to keep track of rapidly developing employee benefits legislation and guidance.  We periodically consolidate key newsletters and blog posts to help our readers stay organized and catch up on items they might have missed.  Below, please find links to several SW Benefits Updates and blog posts covering developments in the employee benefits realm.  As always, you can access our entire catalogue of employee benefits blog posts here on the Snell & Wilmer L.L.P. website.  You can also view all of our SW Benefits Updates here, and our COVID-19-specific SW Benefit Updates here. Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation, Health & Welfare Plans, Health Care Reform, Qualified Retirement Plans | Tagged , , ,

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Credit Where Credit Is Due: IRS Offers Long-Sought Guidance on Employer Retention Credit Program

As we previously reported, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) provided for an employee retention credit (“ERC”) designed to encourage employers to retain workers during the COVID-19 crisis.  In general, the ERC permits eligible employers to claim a refundable tax credit of a portion of qualified wages paid to employees over a given period.

Initially, the IRS issued guidance on ERCs in the form of online Frequently Asked Questions (the “FAQs”).  The FAQs were non-binding and subject to change.  As of March 1, 2021, the IRS published formal rules with respect to ERCs in Notice 2021-20 (the “Notice”).  Read More ›

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