Employee Benefits: Look Past the Wage
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When considering a job, there are many aspects to consider other than the wage or salary. I am not going to focus on the job aspects that do not involve benefits such as liking your boss, your office, coworkers, or how long of a lunch you get. The purpose of this post is to widen your perspective of the many different perks or benefits a job can offer, and how they can add up to mean extra income on top of your salary.
Medical insurance- This benefit alone can mean the difference between keeping thousands of dollars in your pocket each year or not. Depending on the copay(if there is one), deductible, out of pocket maximum, prescription drug card, coinsurance, availability of an HSA or FSA, and your employers participation can add up to saving or spending hundreds of extra dollars a month. If all or any of the above is not clear to you on what it means or what it does, stay tuned to my next hubs, as I will break down each benefit and its terms.
Dental insurance- Another crucial benefit. Dental insurance does not have as many bells and whistles, but some aspects of a plan are important to look for. What is the out of pocket maximum, the deductible, the coinsurance, is orthodontia included, if so how much? Another good question to ask with dental insurance is about the network, and if there are in network dentists close by.
Life insurance- This benefit is a great perk, but there is not much immediate benefit to this perk, but if something tragic were to happen, asking the right questions can make all the different to how your family will fare without you. Some questions to get answered is whether or not the plan is portable. Is it convertible? Is there a buy up option? How much does the employer pay? How does this fit with personal life insurance you may have? Again, if these questions do not make much sense, I will be dedicating a hub to the employee benefit of life insurance.
Short term and long term disability- Again, another benefit you hope you do not have to use, but if you do, it pays to know what the numbers mean. Some things to learn about your employer’s plan is what the elimination period is, is there a buy up option? How long does it last? What percentage of my income does it pay? Is the policy for own occupation?
Vision insurance- This is a minor benefit that is usually coupled with dental. Most plans give a flat dollar amount towards materials, such as glasses or contacts, and cover an eye exam each year, and have some percentage of coinsurance. Basically with this benefit is to know if your employer offers it or not.
PTO- Paid Time Off. This is a benefit many pay close attention to, because it involves getting paid for time you are not at work. Aspects of PTO you want to know are, how fast do you accumulate it? When do you earn more? Is sick leave separate or included? How much can I bank? Is there a buy back for unused hours? Do I have to use PTO before unpaid time off? Is there a priority or seniority that determines who gets first chance to take time off?
Holidays- Ask your employer how many holidays you get off, do you get a floating holiday? Can you get holiday pay if you take time off before or after a holiday? (believe it or not some employers do not allow you to get time and a half if you take extra time off before or after the holiday)
Flex time- This is a great perk worth its weight in gold, or PTO hours. Basically this benefit allows you to adjust your schedule a few hours during the week, coming in early a few days to leave work for a few hours a different day without using your PTO. With this perk, no more are the days you have to use PTO to go to a dentist appointment. What you are doing is still working your 40 hours, but working a couple 9 hour days to take one day off early. This works great to get appointments done, or leave early on a Friday.
401k- Another benefit most employees pay really close attention to, as it has to do with their quality of life after work. Make sure you understand what the vesting schedule is, what the employer match is, how you can choose your investments or re balance. Can you roll over 401k’s from old jobs? Again, if this sounds like gibberish, I will be creating a hub in this series to explain every aspect of a 401k.
Wellness- Does your employer have a gym on campus? Can you work out and get paid for it a certain number of hours a week? Do they offer gym membership discounts if you are paying for one? Many employers offer these types of benefits because they know that a healthy and active workforce is less expensive and more productive.
Clinic- Does your employer have its own clinic to use? Many times an employer will create a basic care clinic to supplement a medical plan that may not be very good, offering their employees free basic health care at this clinic, usually staffed by nurses or PA’s.
Parking- Do you have free parking or are you reimbursed? This can add up fast if you are paying to park every day. Also, if you work close to stadiums, having a parking pass can save money for different sporting events.
Telecommute- Do you have the option to telecommute?
Tuition Reimbursement- Does your employer off it? if so, how much per year? how long do you need to work there after you complete your degree without having to pay them back?
As you can clearly see, all of these benefits can add up to many thousands of dollars each year, and we never mentioned the salary. Hopefully this gives you an idea of how valuable a benefits package can be when considering a new job. It is not smart to turn a job down just because the pay is lower than you wanted, the employer may make it up with a great benefits package. It is also not enough anymore to accept a job simply because of your high wage, if the benefits are below par, you may see a lot of your income going towards what a good benefits package would cover.