2015 End of Year Plan Sponsor “To Do” List (Part 3) Executive Compensation

by Snell & Wilmer
Contact

As 2015 comes to an end, we are pleased to present you with our traditional End of Year Plan Sponsor “To Do” Lists. This year we are presenting our “To Do” Lists in three separate Employee Benefits Updates. Part 1 of the series covered health and welfare plan issues, Part 2 covered qualified retirement plan issues, and this Part 3 covers executive compensation related issues. Each Employee Benefits Update provides you with a “To Do” List of items on which you may want to take action before the end of 2015 or in early 2016. As always, we appreciate your relationship with Snell & Wilmer and hope that these “To Do” Lists help focus your efforts over the next few months.

Executive Compensation “To Do” List

  • Last Chance to Correct Certain Section 409A Document Failures Discovered in 2015: Although not specifically addressed in the Section 409A regulations, most commentators believe that Section 409A document failures can be corrected in years in which the deferred amounts are not yet vested or for which the substantial risk of forfeiture (or contingency upon which the compensation is paid) has not yet occurred. This means that Section 409A document failures discovered in 2015 may be corrected prior to December 31, 2015 without taxes and penalties if the deferred compensation amounts remain unvested through December 31, 2015. To take advantage of this correction opportunity, the amounts in question must remain unvested for the balance of 2015 and correction must occur prior to the date the compensation vests.
  • Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Deferral Elections Should be Made on or Before December 31, 2015: As a general rule, Section 409A requires that compensation deferrals under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan be made during the taxable year before the year in which the underlying services are performed. There are some exceptions to this general rule, but employers should be mindful that Section 409A imposes strict requirements on the timing of compensation deferral elections and that most deferrals of compensation to be earned in 2016 must be made on or before December 31, 2015.
  • Consider Shareholder Reapproval of Section 162(m) Performance Compensation Plans Approved in 2011: Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) limits the deduction a public company may take for compensation payable to “covered employees” to $1,000,000 per year. “Performance-based compensation” that meets the requirements of Section 162(m) is not subject to this limitation. The Section 162(m) regulations require that, every five years, the shareholders reapprove the performance goals that determine the amount of “performance-based compensation” to be paid. This means that companies that obtained shareholder approval of plans containing Section 162(m) performance goals in 2011 must resubmit the plans for shareholder approval in 2016. This is generally done by having the shareholders reapprove either the 162(m) performance goals or a new incentive plan that provides for the award of compensation that complies with Section 162(m).
  • Review Whether Your Equity-Based Compensation Plan Has Sufficient Shares Remaining for 2016 Grants: Employers should review share pool information to determine whether to ask the shareholders to increase the number of shares available for grant. If additional shares are needed, the request should be submitted for shareholder approval at the 2016 annual meeting.
  • Consider Adding Separate Annual Limits on Director Equity Awards: In response to the Delaware Chancery Court’s rulings in Seinfeld v. Slager and Calma v. Templeton, employers that are adopting or amending equity-based compensation plans in 2016 should consider adding a separate annual limit on director equity awards. In both Seinfeld and Calma, the Chancery Court refused to apply the “business judgment rule” to dismiss a challenge to directors who approved large equity awards for themselves under a shareholder-approved equity-based compensation plan. The Court ruled that the plan did not impose “meaningful limits” or “director-specific ceilings” on the amounts that directors could receive under the respective equity plans independent from the generic limits imposed on other equity plan participants. The questions for employers to consider in light of Seinfeld and Calma are whether to: (1) add a separate annual limit for director equity awards; and (2) ask the shareholders to approve the limit to afford protection under the “business judgment rule.”
  • Public Companies Should Familiarize Themselves with Recent Changes to the ISS Equity Plan Scorecard: Public company employers that are adopting or amending equity-based compensation plans in 2016 should familiarize themselves with ISS’ “Equity Plan Scorecard” approach to evaluating public company equity plans and should consider registering to gain access to the ISS Equity Plan Data Verification Portal to verify the data points being considered by ISS. While the Scorecard methodology remains largely unchanged for 2016, the following adjustments have been made: (1) the “IPO” model was renamed the “Special Cases” model and now, in addition to IPOs, analyzes bankruptcy emergent companies; (2) a separate “Special Cases” model has been introduced to apply to Russell 3000/S&P 500 companies; (3) the manner in which vesting following a change in control is scored has been adjusted (full points are now awarded if the plan provides for: (i) with respect to time-based awards, either no accelerated vesting or accelerated vesting only if the awards are not assumed/converted; and (ii) with respect to performance-based awards, either forfeiture or termination of outstanding awards or vesting based on actual performance as of the change in control and/or pro-rata vesting for time elapsed during the current performance period, no points are awarded if the plan provides for automatic accelerated vesting of time-based awards or payout of performance-based awards above target, and half points if the plan provides for any other vesting terms related to a change in control); and (4) certain other scoring factors have been adjusted, but the maximum of 100 total points and threshold of 53 points to receive a favorable recommendation (in the absence of egregious pay practices) remains.
  • Code Section 6039 Information Statements Due by January 31, 2016: Section 6039 of the Code requires companies to file a return and provide a written information statement to each employee or former employee regarding: (1) the transfer of stock pursuant to the exercise of an Incentive Stock Option (“ISO”); and (2) the transfer by the employee or former employee of stock purchased at a discount under an Employee Stock Purchase Plan (“ESPP”). For ISO grants and ESPP transfers occurring in 2015, the Section 6039 information statements must be provided no later than January 31, 2016.
  • Review Grant Procedures for Upcoming Equity-Based Grants: The stock option backdating scandals were solemn reminders of serious corporate, tax, accounting and legal issues that can be resolved by an employer carefully reviewing its grant practices and procedures. An employer may wish to carefully review its stock plan to determine which governing body is charged with making grants under the plan and put in place best practice procedures to ensure the proper entity takes the appropriate action as of the date the awards are considered granted.
  • Prepare for Final “Clawback” Rules: As described in our fall issue of the Corporate Communicator, earlier this year, the Security and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) proposed rules, that require the SEC to direct the national securities exchanges to prohibit the listing of any security that is not in compliance with certain requirements relating to the “clawback” of executive compensation. Even though these rules have not yet been finalized, public company employers should consider familiarizing themselves with the proposed rules and may even consider adding “clawback” enabling language to their equity plans and award agreements to better facilitate compliance with these rules.
  • Prepare for Pay Ratio Disclosure: Earlier this year the SEC finalized rules that require public companies to disclose the: (1) median of the annual total compensation of all employees (other than the CEO); (2) annual total compensation of the CEO; and (3) ratio of the median of the annual total compensation of all employees to the annual total compensation of the CEO. Although these rules are not effective until the first full fiscal year beginning on or after January 1, 2017, public company employers should consider familiarizing themselves with the final rules and how they might, among other things, identify the methodology that will be used to identify the median employee.
  • Prepare for Pay Versus Performance Disclosure: Earlier this year the SEC proposed rules that require public companies to disclose, in a clear manner, the relationship between the amount of executive compensation paid and the company’s financial performance. Generally speaking, the rules will require companies to disclose the company’s and its peers total shareholder return over the five most recently completed fiscal years. Although the proposed rules did not identify an effective date, public company employers should consider familiarizing themselves with the proposed rules and whether certain components of the disclosure will be in a narrative, graphic, or hybrid format.
  • Prepare for Hedging Disclosure: Earlier this year the SEC proposed rules that require public companies to disclose whether employees and board members are permitted to engage in transactions to hedge or offset decreases in the market value of company securities that were granted as compensation or held, directly or indirectly, by the employee or board member. Although the proposed rules did not identify an effective date, public company employers should consider familiarizing themselves with the proposed rules and whether now is an appropriate time to adopt an anti-hedging policy.
  • Revise Incentive Programs in Response to FASB’s Elimination of Extraordinary Items Concept: Under existing accounting guidance, extraordinary items that are both unusual in nature and infrequently occurring are segregated and reported separately on income statements. For fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2015, separate reporting on the income statement should occur when an item is unusual in nature or infrequently occurring. Incentive compensation programs that use the old accounting terminology (e.g., to describe an adjustment to a financial performance measure) should be amended to reflect this new accounting guidance.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Snell & Wilmer | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Snell & Wilmer
Contact
more
less

Snell & Wilmer on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide

JD Supra Privacy Policy

Updated: May 25, 2018:

JD Supra is a legal publishing service that connects experts and their content with broader audiences of professionals, journalists and associations.

This Privacy Policy describes how JD Supra, LLC ("JD Supra" or "we," "us," or "our") collects, uses and shares personal data collected from visitors to our website (located at www.jdsupra.com) (our "Website") who view only publicly-available content as well as subscribers to our services (such as our email digests or author tools)(our "Services"). By using our Website and registering for one of our Services, you are agreeing to the terms of this Privacy Policy.

Please note that if you subscribe to one of our Services, you can make choices about how we collect, use and share your information through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard (available if you are logged into your JD Supra account).

Collection of Information

Registration Information. When you register with JD Supra for our Website and Services, either as an author or as a subscriber, you will be asked to provide identifying information to create your JD Supra account ("Registration Data"), such as your:

  • Email
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Company Name
  • Company Industry
  • Title
  • Country

Other Information: We also collect other information you may voluntarily provide. This may include content you provide for publication. We may also receive your communications with others through our Website and Services (such as contacting an author through our Website) or communications directly with us (such as through email, feedback or other forms or social media). If you are a subscribed user, we will also collect your user preferences, such as the types of articles you would like to read.

Information from third parties (such as, from your employer or LinkedIn): We may also receive information about you from third party sources. For example, your employer may provide your information to us, such as in connection with an article submitted by your employer for publication. If you choose to use LinkedIn to subscribe to our Website and Services, we also collect information related to your LinkedIn account and profile.

Your interactions with our Website and Services: As is true of most websites, we gather certain information automatically. This information includes IP addresses, browser type, Internet service provider (ISP), referring/exit pages, operating system, date/time stamp and clickstream data. We use this information to analyze trends, to administer the Website and our Services, to improve the content and performance of our Website and Services, and to track users' movements around the site. We may also link this automatically-collected data to personal information, for example, to inform authors about who has read their articles. Some of this data is collected through information sent by your web browser. We also use cookies and other tracking technologies to collect this information. To learn more about cookies and other tracking technologies that JD Supra may use on our Website and Services please see our "Cookies Guide" page.

How do we use this information?

We use the information and data we collect principally in order to provide our Website and Services. More specifically, we may use your personal information to:

  • Operate our Website and Services and publish content;
  • Distribute content to you in accordance with your preferences as well as to provide other notifications to you (for example, updates about our policies and terms);
  • Measure readership and usage of the Website and Services;
  • Communicate with you regarding your questions and requests;
  • Authenticate users and to provide for the safety and security of our Website and Services;
  • Conduct research and similar activities to improve our Website and Services; and
  • Comply with our legal and regulatory responsibilities and to enforce our rights.

How is your information shared?

  • Content and other public information (such as an author profile) is shared on our Website and Services, including via email digests and social media feeds, and is accessible to the general public.
  • If you choose to use our Website and Services to communicate directly with a company or individual, such communication may be shared accordingly.
  • Readership information is provided to publishing law firms and authors of content to give them insight into their readership and to help them to improve their content.
  • Our Website may offer you the opportunity to share information through our Website, such as through Facebook's "Like" or Twitter's "Tweet" button. We offer this functionality to help generate interest in our Website and content and to permit you to recommend content to your contacts. You should be aware that sharing through such functionality may result in information being collected by the applicable social media network and possibly being made publicly available (for example, through a search engine). Any such information collection would be subject to such third party social media network's privacy policy.
  • Your information may also be shared to parties who support our business, such as professional advisors as well as web-hosting providers, analytics providers and other information technology providers.
  • Any court, governmental authority, law enforcement agency or other third party where we believe disclosure is necessary to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation, or otherwise to protect our rights, the rights of any third party or individuals' personal safety, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or safety issues.
  • To our affiliated entities and in connection with the sale, assignment or other transfer of our company or our business.

How We Protect Your Information

JD Supra takes reasonable and appropriate precautions to insure that user information is protected from loss, misuse and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration and destruction. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. You should keep in mind that no Internet transmission is ever 100% secure or error-free. Where you use log-in credentials (usernames, passwords) on our Website, please remember that it is your responsibility to safeguard them. If you believe that your log-in credentials have been compromised, please contact us at privacy@jdsupra.com.

Children's Information

Our Website and Services are not directed at children under the age of 16 and we do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 16 through our Website and/or Services. If you have reason to believe that a child under the age of 16 has provided personal information to us, please contact us, and we will endeavor to delete that information from our databases.

Links to Other Websites

Our Website and Services may contain links to other websites. The operators of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using our Website or Services and click a link to another site, you will leave our Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We are not responsible for the data collection and use practices of such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of our Website and Services and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Information for EU and Swiss Residents

JD Supra's principal place of business is in the United States. By subscribing to our website, you expressly consent to your information being processed in the United States.

  • Our Legal Basis for Processing: Generally, we rely on our legitimate interests in order to process your personal information. For example, we rely on this legal ground if we use your personal information to manage your Registration Data and administer our relationship with you; to deliver our Website and Services; understand and improve our Website and Services; report reader analytics to our authors; to personalize your experience on our Website and Services; and where necessary to protect or defend our or another's rights or property, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security, safety or privacy issues. Please see Article 6(1)(f) of the E.U. General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR") In addition, there may be other situations where other grounds for processing may exist, such as where processing is a result of legal requirements (GDPR Article 6(1)(c)) or for reasons of public interest (GDPR Article 6(1)(e)). Please see the "Your Rights" section of this Privacy Policy immediately below for more information about how you may request that we limit or refrain from processing your personal information.
  • Your Rights
    • Right of Access/Portability: You can ask to review details about the information we hold about you and how that information has been used and disclosed. Note that we may request to verify your identification before fulfilling your request. You can also request that your personal information is provided to you in a commonly used electronic format so that you can share it with other organizations.
    • Right to Correct Information: You may ask that we make corrections to any information we hold, if you believe such correction to be necessary.
    • Right to Restrict Our Processing or Erasure of Information: You also have the right in certain circumstances to ask us to restrict processing of your personal information or to erase your personal information. Where you have consented to our use of your personal information, you can withdraw your consent at any time.

You can make a request to exercise any of these rights by emailing us at privacy@jdsupra.com or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

You can also manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard.

We will make all practical efforts to respect your wishes. There may be times, however, where we are not able to fulfill your request, for example, if applicable law prohibits our compliance. Please note that JD Supra does not use "automatic decision making" or "profiling" as those terms are defined in the GDPR.

  • Timeframe for retaining your personal information: We will retain your personal information in a form that identifies you only for as long as it serves the purpose(s) for which it was initially collected as stated in this Privacy Policy, or subsequently authorized. We may continue processing your personal information for longer periods, but only for the time and to the extent such processing reasonably serves the purposes of archiving in the public interest, journalism, literature and art, scientific or historical research and statistical analysis, and subject to the protection of this Privacy Policy. For example, if you are an author, your personal information may continue to be published in connection with your article indefinitely. When we have no ongoing legitimate business need to process your personal information, we will either delete or anonymize it, or, if this is not possible (for example, because your personal information has been stored in backup archives), then we will securely store your personal information and isolate it from any further processing until deletion is possible.
  • Onward Transfer to Third Parties: As noted in the "How We Share Your Data" Section above, JD Supra may share your information with third parties. When JD Supra discloses your personal information to third parties, we have ensured that such third parties have either certified under the EU-U.S. or Swiss Privacy Shield Framework and will process all personal data received from EU member states/Switzerland in reliance on the applicable Privacy Shield Framework or that they have been subjected to strict contractual provisions in their contract with us to guarantee an adequate level of data protection for your data.

California Privacy Rights

Pursuant to Section 1798.83 of the California Civil Code, our customers who are California residents have the right to request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to third parties for their direct marketing purposes.

You can make a request for this information by emailing us at privacy@jdsupra.com or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

Some browsers have incorporated a Do Not Track (DNT) feature. These features, when turned on, send a signal that you prefer that the website you are visiting not collect and use data regarding your online searching and browsing activities. As there is not yet a common understanding on how to interpret the DNT signal, we currently do not respond to DNT signals on our site.

Access/Correct/Update/Delete Personal Information

For non-EU/Swiss residents, if you would like to know what personal information we have about you, you can send an e-mail to privacy@jdsupra.com. We will be in contact with you (by mail or otherwise) to verify your identity and provide you the information you request. We will respond within 30 days to your request for access to your personal information. In some cases, we may not be able to remove your personal information, in which case we will let you know if we are unable to do so and why. If you would like to correct or update your personal information, you can manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard. If you would like to delete your account or remove your information from our Website and Services, send an e-mail to privacy@jdsupra.com.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Privacy Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our Privacy Policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use our Website and Services following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, the practices of this site, your dealings with our Website or Services, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: privacy@jdsupra.com.

JD Supra Cookie Guide

As with many websites, JD Supra's website (located at www.jdsupra.com) (our "Website") and our services (such as our email article digests)(our "Services") use a standard technology called a "cookie" and other similar technologies (such as, pixels and web beacons), which are small data files that are transferred to your computer when you use our Website and Services. These technologies automatically identify your browser whenever you interact with our Website and Services.

How We Use Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to:

  1. Improve the user experience on our Website and Services;
  2. Store the authorization token that users receive when they login to the private areas of our Website. This token is specific to a user's login session and requires a valid username and password to obtain. It is required to access the user's profile information, subscriptions, and analytics;
  3. Track anonymous site usage; and
  4. Permit connectivity with social media networks to permit content sharing.

There are different types of cookies and other technologies used our Website, notably:

  • "Session cookies" - These cookies only last as long as your online session, and disappear from your computer or device when you close your browser (like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Safari).
  • "Persistent cookies" - These cookies stay on your computer or device after your browser has been closed and last for a time specified in the cookie. We use persistent cookies when we need to know who you are for more than one browsing session. For example, we use them to remember your preferences for the next time you visit.
  • "Web Beacons/Pixels" - Some of our web pages and emails may also contain small electronic images known as web beacons, clear GIFs or single-pixel GIFs. These images are placed on a web page or email and typically work in conjunction with cookies to collect data. We use these images to identify our users and user behavior, such as counting the number of users who have visited a web page or acted upon one of our email digests.

JD Supra Cookies. We place our own cookies on your computer to track certain information about you while you are using our Website and Services. For example, we place a session cookie on your computer each time you visit our Website. We use these cookies to allow you to log-in to your subscriber account. In addition, through these cookies we are able to collect information about how you use the Website, including what browser you may be using, your IP address, and the URL address you came from upon visiting our Website and the URL you next visit (even if those URLs are not on our Website). We also utilize email web beacons to monitor whether our emails are being delivered and read. We also use these tools to help deliver reader analytics to our authors to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

Analytics/Performance Cookies. JD Supra also uses the following analytic tools to help us analyze the performance of our Website and Services as well as how visitors use our Website and Services:

  • HubSpot - For more information about HubSpot cookies, please visit legal.hubspot.com/privacy-policy.
  • New Relic - For more information on New Relic cookies, please visit www.newrelic.com/privacy.
  • Google Analytics - For more information on Google Analytics cookies, visit www.google.com/policies. To opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics across all websites visit http://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout. This will allow you to download and install a Google Analytics cookie-free web browser.

Facebook, Twitter and other Social Network Cookies. Our content pages allow you to share content appearing on our Website and Services to your social media accounts through the "Like," "Tweet," or similar buttons displayed on such pages. To accomplish this Service, we embed code that such third party social networks provide and that we do not control. These buttons know that you are logged in to your social network account and therefore such social networks could also know that you are viewing the JD Supra Website.

Controlling and Deleting Cookies

If you would like to change how a browser uses cookies, including blocking or deleting cookies from the JD Supra Website and Services you can do so by changing the settings in your web browser. To control cookies, most browsers allow you to either accept or reject all cookies, only accept certain types of cookies, or prompt you every time a site wishes to save a cookie. It's also easy to delete cookies that are already saved on your device by a browser.

The processes for controlling and deleting cookies vary depending on which browser you use. To find out how to do so with a particular browser, you can use your browser's "Help" function or alternatively, you can visit http://www.aboutcookies.org which explains, step-by-step, how to control and delete cookies in most browsers.

Updates to This Policy

We may update this cookie policy and our Privacy Policy from time-to-time, particularly as technology changes. You can always check this page for the latest version. We may also notify you of changes to our privacy policy by email.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about how we use cookies and other tracking technologies, please contact us at: privacy@jdsupra.com.

- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.