Today's employee benefit plan fiduciaries operate in a complex legal and regulatory environment and often perform the responsibilities of their jobs with lean staffs or outsourced administration. The standards of conduct imposed on fiduciaries by ERISA require fiduciaries to operate plans in accordance with governing documents and instruments, and thus to be at risk for liability stemming from the activities of internal employee benefits personnel and outside service providers, and to perform their duties with skill, prudence, and diligence.
Morgan Lewis has performed many audits designed to assist clients in fulfilling fiduciary obligations and evaluating procedures for best practices, or as a part of due diligence in a merger or acquisition. Many clients choose Morgan Lewis to lead an audit and coordinate with other professionals because a legal audit conducted by or through an attorney is more likely to be privileged.
With respect to operational compliance, given today's complex and rapidly changing legal and regulatory environment, it is rare for a company to be in total compliance. Fortunately, the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) permits plan sponsors to correct qualification failures or failures under section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code with relative ease. Morgan Lewis’s Employee Benefits Practice members have broad experience in dealing with voluntary corrections efforts (sometimes on an anonymous basis) and with issues raised on audit.