As part of employment packages, there is usually a whole suite of benefits to entice employees. We all likely use some of our benefits, but what else might be available to you?
The Big Three
- Health Care- Shortly after asking “How much does it pay?” comes “What are the health benefits?”. For many employees this is a high priority, as health insurance is often tied to employment.
- Retirement plan- Most people don’t plan to work forever, so having a retirement plan with employer matching dollars is an excellent first step on the road to retirement.
- Life insurance- The most morbid subject of all; life insurance through your employer gives access to coverage with minimal work and great ease.
These three are a great start, but what are some other things that we should be looking for, especially in these uncertain times?
When I am asked the best time to write a will or trust, my answer as a financial planner is always, NOW. Typically run through your employee assistance program (EAP), companies provide some sort of legal service. It could be access to a lawyer or legal library with boilerplate documents. If your employer offers this service, please take advantage. Generally, you can get a will done inexpensively or even free! And then you can check that off the to-do list instead of ignoring it for another 2 years. Even better, you will know what other legal options you have available to you in case you might need a lawyer for something in the future.
- Short Term Disability: Planning a surgery? Or perhaps you are hoping to expand your family. Just worried that you might get sick and be out of work? Sounds like a job for short term disability. These typically run for up to 3-6 months and can cover up to 100% of your income while you are ill or out on leave. If you are sick for more than one week, this is a great way to avoid burning your time off and make sure that you have income while you are getting better. Some employers pay for this; others make it available as an additional benefit you can purchase.
- Long Term Disability: This coverage helps if you need to be out longer than those 3-6 months. Most of the time this is optional and employee (read- by you) paid. There are some tax considerations for long term disability, so make sure to ask when exploring the options; but this a great option for if you get a chronic illness or have a major accident. But it needs to be in place before it’s needed
- Long term care- Why would you look into long term care now? You are probably working and raising a family at the same time. Well, in the likely event you need long term care ever in your life, why not have it partially subsidized by your employer!?
The New Kids on the Block
- Student loan assistance: Payment or assistance with student loan payments, usually capped at an annual amount.
- Education assistance: This may come in the form of tutors or guidance counselors to help with assignments, or it could include cold, hard cash to help pay tuition for education.
- Employee discounts- Save money by working at your company! If using this, please make sure it is a percentage discount, not a (potentially expensive) repayment plan attached to your paycheck.
- Childcare: Some employers provide an on-site daycare facility or discounts available at nearby centers offsite.
It doesn’t matter if you are brand new or have been there for 20 years; there’s likely a benefit you can use that you don’t even know about. So take this time to explore all the options; and as always, wash those hands.