Employment, Incentives and Pensions
Our team of employment, incentives and pensions lawyers help our clients get the best out of their teams by providing practical, innovative and commercial legal advice across the full spectrum of people and reward challenges.
The workplace is evolving fast. Employers are faced with new technologies, novel ways of working, and the changing demands of millennial and Gen-Z workforces. Having the right workplace culture is essential, helping to minimize legal risk and regulatory scrutiny. And, as companies look to engage in ever-more transformational M&A, an early focus on post-deal workforce integration is critical for long-term success.
Our team of employment, incentives and pensions lawyers works side by side with our clients to deliver excellent practical, innovative and commercial legal advice across the full spectrum of people and reward challenges.
We are a trusted HR legal partner for many employers at a global and local level. We provide strategic advice on a range of HR legal projects, including coordinating the design and roll-out of HR policies and incentive plans, running workplace investigations, managing industrial relations issues and workforce restructuring exercises, and finding solutions to pension liability issues in the context of major transactions and de-risking operations. We are the ‘go-to’ team for our client’s most strategic and sensitive HR legal issues.
We want to provide the best of our team to you, whatever HR legal challenge you face.
Recent client successes
Advising UBS on the employment, pensions and incentives aspects of its merger with Credit Suisse. The combination is expected to create a business with more than US$5tn in total invested assets and sustainable value opportunities.
Our work so far has consisted of advising on the commercial approach towards Credit Suisse employees, including their remuneration offers, liaising with the UBS French works council in relation to information and consultation regarding the European Commission filing, advising on engagement with the Credit Suisse pension scheme trustee in the UK, and carrying out targeted due diligence on the Credit Suisse business. You can read more about our work here.
Providing Novartis with comprehensive employment law advice in relation to a global staff reduction programme (affecting 7% of its workforce, with a matter value of US$25bn) and on the intended separation of the Sandoz division with a subsequent IPO.
Conducting several confidential, often highly sensitive investigations on behalf of a variety of global clients.
Increasingly such investigations involve complex and sometimes historical allegations relating to #MeToo matters and other serious misconduct issues, such as bullying and harassment allegations. Many of these investigations have been cross-border matters, requiring advice across multiple jurisdictions. Such matters require our team members to blend employment law expertise with advice on regulatory requirements and reputational/media impact. We have advised clients on communications with regulators and other stakeholders in relation to such investigations. We have extensive experience advising on the resolution of issues arising out of investigations and any ongoing disputes for clients using a variety of mechanisms, including mediation and negotiated settlements, as well as advising on complex, high-value tribunal and court claims.
Advising FWD on the amendment of its existing employee share option plan to provide for the grant of restricted share units. We also advised on the implementation of the new plan in nine APAC jurisdictions.
In addition, we assisted with several follow-up practical issues in relation to the operation of the cross-border employee share option scheme, including in respect of the relocation of participants.
Advising Sixth Street Partners on the new DB pension consolidator vehicle and “superfund” Clara-Pensions.
Superfunds are set to be a central part of the pensions landscape, with the UK Government keen to see this market develop further. Freshfields played a leading role in the design and implementation of the Clara-Pensions platform, showcasing our strength in emerging market trends and innovative new structures.
"They provide phenomenal knowledge and insight and are very adept at handling all situations."
"Freshfields is a strong firm advising on complex employment work."
"The labour team is excellently managed and offers great and consistent advice… high performance and outstanding results."
"They provide great flexibility and responsiveness across different time zones and requirements."