If you have a job and you are not familiar with the benefits offered by your employer, we suggest you call HR immediately and find out! Most employers offer a range of different benefits to their employees. In fact, some benefits are required by state law. Understanding the benefits available to you is crucial in becoming a financially savvy lady!
Keep in mind that most benefits apply only to employees, not contractors. We are going to cover the most common types of benefits offered by employers today, and go further to discuss some of the great benefits offered by larger companies and corporations. If any of the benefits interest you, take notes and talk to the HR department at your work. They will be able to provide you all of the details on what is available to you, and when you can start taking advantage of the benefits.
Vacation and Sick Time
The most common type of benefits offered to employees of any business is vacation and sick time. The amount of vacation and sick time allotted is usually determined by your job role and years of service. Some companies increase your annual vacation allotment as you grow within the company. If not used in full during the year, vacation and sick time is usually lost at the start of the next year. However, California, Rhode Island, Illinois and Montana are the only states that require vacation carryover from year to year. Sick time is generally never rolled over. If you are feeling guilty about using your personal time, read our tips on how to skip the guilt and take your day off!
401k/403b and Pension
Investing in a 401k or other retirement plan is one of the best ways to help financially secure your future. Most companies offer a selection of 401k plans to their employees. After a certain amount of time, your employer may even match your 401k contribution. Check out the Finance 101: Retirement Plans article for more information on why you need a 401k. Pensions aren’t as common anymore, but some employers still participate. A pension is a retirement fund that is set up for you and contributed to by your employer. The more time you have spent with the company, the higher your pension will be. Pension is distributed at the time of your retirement.
While you don’t need an employer to get health insurance, it is often cheaper when purchased through your work. Companies buy health insurance and offer it to employees at a lower rate than if they purchased it themselves. Having your insurance payment taken out of your paycheck directly makes it easier to maintain and less of a hassle. You also get a lower rate if you have dependents that need to be covered as well. Medical, dental and vision plans are the most common offered. Some employers may also provide employees with an HSA (health savings account), to help cover out of pocket medical costs.
Medical, Personal and Maternity Leave
Under FMLA, or the Family and Medical Leave Act, as an employee of your company, you are protected from job loss and loss of health insurance for a specific family or medical reason. The time allotted can be as high as 6 months. Common reasons include: a serious health condition, caring for a spouse, parent or child with a serious health condition, and active military duty emergencies. Maternity leave is also protected under FMLA, usually granting 3 months. It is possible for employers to continuing paying employees on approved leave, however it is not required that pay continue during the leave.
Reimbursed Expenses and Commuter Benefits
Reimbursed expenses are often a benefit of working from home, or paying for a work related item or trip. Expenses incurred during business trips, business meetings, and doing business at home are often reimbursed timely. Any unreimbursed expenses can be used as a deduction on your tax return. Commuter benefits are common for employees working in large cities that have to commute to work. For example, a person living in New Jersey may have to commute via train to work in New York, and this can get costly. Discounted rates are granted to employees who take advantage of commuter benefits from their work. Commuter fees may be taken directly out of employee paychecks as well.
Child Care Expense Reimbursement
Day care reimbursement and adoption assistance is a benefit offered by some employers. There is usually a cap on how much can be reimbursed, but with the high costs of childcare anything can help. Companies may also have approved providers that offer discounts to their employees. If you have children and day care expenses, it is worth looking in to.
Depending on what you are studying or majoring in school, your company may reimburse you up to a certain amount each year for tuition. Depending on the maximum amount reimbursed by your company, this can make a big difference!
If you are dealing with stress, depression or any other feeling that may require counseling or therapy, your company may pay for a few sessions. Payment would typically take place directly between the counselor/therapist and the company’s insurance.
Another possible employee benefit is paid bereavement time. Bereavement is the time you take to mourn the loss of a loved one, as well as attend the funeral. This time does not take away from your sick or vacation time, and is generally still paid for.
You will be surprised at all of the benefits companies can offer their employees. If you are looking for a job, do an online search on your prospective workplaces to get an idea of what type of benefits they provide. If you already have an employer, but you are not taking advantage (or don’t know of) any benefits, make sure you find out! Benefits can make certain situations that much easier to deal with, and if they are there for the taking, what is stopping you? Do you get great benefits from your company? Are there any special benefits you are receiving or received in the past? Share your thoughts and experiences with the community by leaving a comment below!