Let’s take a look at 9 of the most common employee benefits an employer may offer. Consider these when you’re looking for a new job.
1. Medical Insurance
Medical insurance is a no-brainer and one of the most popular employee benefits offered by companies. Again, because of theAffordable Care Act (ACA), employers with more than 50 full-time employees must offer medical insurance through their employee benefits programs to full-time employees only. A medical insurance plan will cover your typical health needs, excluding vision and dental, which usually have their own plan or package that is offered.
Some companies will cover the total cost of your medical insurance premium, but most likely you’ll have to cover some of it on your own. If your company offers different levels of coverage, choosing the right plan for your situation will depend on a number of factors, such as the state of your health or the number of family members on the plan.
It’s also important to find out when your coverage will begin when starting a new job. Some companies require an employee to work for at least 90 days before being able to utilize coverage.
2. Retirement Plans
Retirement plan options are another common benefit nearly every employee benefits package will offer. The most common types of employer-offered retirement accounts are 401(k)s and 403(b)s, depending on whether your employer is a for-profit or nonprofit business.
Many employers offer their employees a 401(k) plan, which provides a tax-advantaged way to save for retirement. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows you to contribute up to a set maximum, which changes from year to year. When analyzing the 401(k) plan that your company offers, find out what percentage of your salary you can set aside and what your investment options are as well. Also, many employers will provide a 401(k) match, which matches employee contributions up to a certain amount.
3. Life and Disability Insurance
Life insurance is another benefit employers offer that will cover funeral expenses and other costs in the event of an unexpected death. Sometimes this is automatically available when you start working at a new company, and other times you will have to sign up for this benefit yourself. You can also find out how much of a premium your employer will cover and if you’re eligible to purchase additional coverage. Remember that the company you work for is ultimately the policy owner, so if you leave your job, you’ll likely lose that coverage.
Disability insurance is also an important benefit that many companies offer. If you were to get injured in an accident or developed a serious illness, this type of insurance can help replace a part of your income if you’re unable to work for an extended period of time. Some companies may offer long-term and short-term disability insurance.
4. Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and Health Savings Accounts (HSA)
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) allow you to put a portion of your paycheck into a spending account that helps reduce your taxable income. The money in this account can then be used for medical expenses and ultimately gives you some tax advantages.
FSAs are available with most health insurance plans, however they come with a “use it or lose it” clause. This means that if you claim $2,000 for the year, but you only use $1,700 of it, you then lose $300.
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are more like a savings account for medical expenses — however, you can use those funds whenever you please. The money you put into your HSA is pre-taxed, giving tax advantages as well. The money placed in your HSA builds up over time and you’re allowed to use it forever, even after you switch health plans. The restriction being that the contributions you make are only tax-free when you’re enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).
5. Paid Time Off
While not required by law, many employers offer employees some form of paid time off (PTO) to remain competitive with other companies. Paid time off is any time where you aren’t working, but still receiving pay. This can include paid vacation time, sick or personal days, and company holidays.
Your company can separate PTO time by vacation, personal and sick days, or they might bundle it, which means there’s one bank of paid leave you can use. Make sure you’re aware of your company’s PTO policy and if you have to use it all in a calendar year (versus rolling over unused time to the following year).
6. Tuition Assistance
Due to the growing student debt crisis, some employers are providing tuition reimbursement to their employees to help pay off their student loans. There are no current laws requiring employers to do this, but it’s a great perk for employees as they begin their professional careers.
A company might also offer a set amount toward continuing higher education, or they may cover a percentage of your tuition to offset some relief. In either case, you’ll probably be required to stay with your company for a certain period of time after you finish your degree, so be sure to read the policy carefully.
These student loan relief programs are ultimately a win-win for both employees and their employers. They help lessen the financial burden on employees and encourage them to pursue advanced degrees. Employees who pursue a higher level of education can bring more value to their current role with the knowledge and skills they are gaining. After all, an investment in your education and future is an investment for your company as well.
7. Remote Work and Flexible Schedules
Remote work options and flexible working schedules are a cost-effective employee benefit that have become more common since the pandemic. More and more organizations are offering flextime, or a flexible start and end time to the workday. Some companies are even working with hybrid in-office and work-from-home arrangements for their employees.
8. Childcare Benefits
According to Pew Research Center’s data, over 4 million Americans left the workforce in between February 2020 and February 2021. Working parents also stated that one of their biggest barriers was the lack of accessibility to affordable childcare. As more employees begin returning to the office, childcare benefits can help alleviate some of the COVID-19 burdens on parents.
One way companies are supporting their employees is by providing on-site daycare or tuition discounts to help with the costs of childcare. By offering contributions toward the high costs of childcare, companies can avoid having to rehire or fill positions for those who have to leave due to this hardship.
9. Paid Holidays
The law doesn’t require employers to provide their employees with paid leave for holidays. However, many employers make sure that their employees get time off for holidays to spend time with friends and family, and enjoy a much-needed break from work life. Companies choose different paid holidays based on their own discretion.
Holidays such as Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Memorial Day are usually accepted days off, but beyond that, other paid holidays are chosen by the employer. Some employers will even offer floating holidays to their staff in addition to or in lieu of traditional paid holidays.
Employee Benefits 101: What to Consider When Job Hunting is written by Rachel Velez for www.chime.com