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Furloughs and Layoffs: Pension and Health Plan Issues and Other Critical Legal Implications

Fiduciary Issues; Partial, Complete and Mass Withdrawals; Risks Triggered by Permanent Closures and Layoffs

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Thursday, July 30, 2020

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will guide employee benefits counsel on potential pension withdrawal and shutdown liability issues and other legal implications of furloughs and layoffs.


The coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted many businesses, forcing them to furlough or lay off their employees. These furloughs and extended layoffs may trigger a full or partial withdrawal from multiemployer pension plans, which can lead to significant liability. For companies with single-employer pension plans, furloughs and layoffs could lead to “shutdown liability,” resulting in additional contributions required to be made to the plan. In both scenarios, the resulting liabilities are joint and several obligations of the employer’s controlled group.

Employers must act to mitigate these risks. This means having a complete understanding of the applicable rules regarding withdrawal and shutdown liability and how furloughs or layoffs might give rise to liability. Employers should consider structuring furloughs and layoffs in a way that decreases the risk of incurring significant liability during an already challenging time.

Employers faced with furloughs or layoffs should also consider issues relating to their health and welfare plans, such as whether they are required to offer COBRA coverage, whether they can subsidize premium payments, and whether employees may change their existing elections.

Justin S. Alex, Senior Counsel at Proskauer Rose, Katherine B. Kohn, Of Counsel at Groom Law Group, and Emily C. Lucco, Associate at Groom Law Group, will guide employee benefits counsel on potential pension withdrawal and shutdown liability issues and other legal implications of furloughs and layoffs.



  1. Impact of COVID-19 on retirement plan administration
  2. Overview of multiemployer pension plans
  3. Legal implications of furloughs and layoffs
  4. Litigation, arbitration, and settlement approaches


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • Critical questions to consider in the event of extended furloughs or layoffs
  • Rules associated with partial and complete withdrawals that may apply in the event of furloughs or layoffs
  • Legal trigger for shutdown liability
  • Consequences of temporary or permanent reductions in pension plans
  • Impact of joint and several controlled group exposure
  • How furloughs or layoffs impact health and welfare benefits
  • Best practices for employers, administrators, and employee benefits counsel


Alex, Justin
Justin S. Alex

Senior Counsel
Proskauer Rose

Mr. Alex is a member of the firm's Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group. He advises private and...  |  Read More

Kohn, Katherine
Katherine B. Kohn

Senior Counsel
Groom Law Group

Ms. Kohn is Of Counsel in Groom Law Group’s Litigation practice group. She specializes in ERISA litigation...  |  Read More

Lucco, Emily
Emily Lucco

Groom Law Group

Ms. Lucco advises clients on a variety of health law matters, counseling plan sponsors, insurers, and third party...  |  Read More

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