Employee benefits are also known as perks or fringe benefits. They are the indirect and non-cash payments provided by your employers. Some benefits are required by state and federal laws such as healthcare, paid family leaves, worker’s compensation and overtime. While some benefits are offered by the employers to attract and retain employees. A few examples include paid time off, flexible schedule, commuter stipend, tuition reimbursement etc.
It may be overwhelming to navigate how these benefits are actually relevant to you. So we are going to offer you a few tips to evaluate and compare these benefits.
Salary is the NUMBER ONE employee benefit that is included in your job offer. You are your best advocate to ensure that you’re satisfied with your offer when reviewing and negotiating the proper pay and the other employee benefits.
No matter if you are just starting a new job, or you’ve been at a job for a while, or you’re still in the middle of job search, it’s important to keep benefits into consideration to assess the values of the jobs. As a matter of fact, an increasing number of workers are willing to take on jobs with lower income but better benefits. Before diving into any wide variety of types of benefits and complicated HR terminology, let's start with five key considerations to make the best of your benefits.
Not all employees in the same company would qualify for the benefits. Make sure to check the minimum hours requirement and the type of employment for the benefit eligibility. For the benefits that are required by state and federal law such as healthcare or paid family leaves, you should double check the labor regulations (often time posted in the office kitchen or cafeteria). Keep in mind that smaller companies with fewer than 20 employees might not fall under these requirements.
Not all benefits are FREE! Before signing up, read carefully about how much that will be taken out of your paycheck. Moreover, there are also pre-tax and post-tax deductions. Pre-tax deductions would be something like healthcare or retirement accounts. Post-tax deductions would be something like disability or life insurance. Read through the fine print and triple check your payroll because human errors can often happen when making these deductions. You need to watch your own back!
Unfortunately, employee benefits are subject to change on a periodic basis, especially when companies are trying to cut back personnel costs. There should be an enrollment period each year that you really need to set some times aside from work and carefully review any changes. You might have life changes too like moving or starting a new family that you want to update your coverage so keep in mind those windows and reach out to HR for help.
None of us are tax experts but it’s good to know some benefits such as retirement accounts and flexible spending accounts (FSA) that come with tax advantages. Start with calculating the pre and post tax contributions from the section we mentioned before. And make sure to follow up with your tax advisor or any local free tax support for more information.
Your company’s HR department: they should be your go to resource when you have any questions. They can also point you in the right direction if they don’t have the answer.
Benefits specialists that work with your company: many companies hire specific benefits companies to manage and answer any questions.
Your family: benefits can affect your household finance and tax filing so definitely have a conversation to be on the same page
Your personal tax advisors or local nonprofit tax services: there are more resources and support groups than you can imagine that can help answer your questions