The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) covers a wide range of employee benefit plans Not only does ERISA include labor laws, but much of ERISA is incorporated in the Internal Revenue Code. Some specific areas in which John Woyke has assisted clients are as follows:
General ERISA questions
Human resources departments often have questions about their plans and what they are allowed to do. John can provide quick advice on many issues, saving employers time and money
Pensions and 401(k) Plans
Many employers provide retirement benefits. John has worked with 401(k) plans, IRAs, 403(b) plans (for tax-exempt employers) and defined contribution and defined benefit plans of all types – drafting plan documents, reviewing documents provided by plan providers as well as providing assistance with design and cost analyses.
John is knowledgeable about health plan regulation and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and can provide advice on such issues as coverage, employer penalties and exemptions. He can also advise on designing plans to provide health benefits at lower cost than would be available through traditional media.
Controlled Group Analyses
Many ERISA provisions depend on whether the employer is considered a part of a “controlled group” of entities. John can provide advice on whether an employer is part of a controlled group as well as advice on structuring entities so as to avoid controlled group status or, conversely, to ensure controlled group status where that is advantageous.
Withdrawal and other liability under union pension plans
Employers with collectively bargained employees often are required to contribute to union sponsored plans (Taft-Hartley plans). ERISA imposes stiff penalties on withdrawal from such plans. These liabilities can also be assessed against other businesses owned by the same group. John can assist in negotiating or litigating these liabilities, which can be substantial.
VEBAs (Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Associations)
VEBAs are tax-exempt entities designed to prefund benefits other than pension benefits. They are often used in connection with self-insured health plans. John can draft and qualify such plans with the IRS. He can also assist in dissolving such plans and render advice on use of surplus.
ERISA provides regulation of transactions between the plan and employers, fiduciaries and other parties in interest. These rules are complicated and bear onerous penalties, including, in some cases, criminal liability. We review transactions and render opinions under ERISA. Or, in the case of grey areas, provide guidance on risks and how to minimize them.
Captive Insurance Companies
Employee benefits can also be provided by insurance carriers organized specifically to provide coverage of the risks of one employer or a group of employers. John has been a pioneer in these types of coverages and can provide advice on the establishment and design of such companies.