As well as your salary, your employer may offer you extra workplace benefits. These could range from a pension to life insurance or medical cover. But could even include breakfast and lunch and on-site massages!
Workplace benefits your employer may offer
The type of benefits that you may be offered includes anything from being able to work hours that suit you to generous maternity pay:
This may mean working during term time only, having the option of starting and finishing at times outside the ‘9-5’ and/or working at home. All employees have the right to ask for flexible working, but that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get it.
SAVVY TIP: Flexible working can be a win-win situation for both you and your employer. In the current climate, more employers are looking for flexibility in their workforce. Ask your employer if they’ll consider offering flexible working if it’s not already an option.
Some employers still offer final salary (defined benefit) pension schemes. But other types of work-based pension are becoming much more popular.
SAVVY TIP: Some employers say their workers aren’t interested in pensions in the current climate; a combination of the recession and distrust of the pensions industry. It’s understandable that a pension may not be your priority. But if employers think workers don’t care whether they have a decent pension scheme or not, they’re likely to see it as a soft touch for cutbacks.
Generous sick pay and maternity pay
Larger companies are far more likely to offer sick pay and maternity pay that’s above the statutory minimum. Most smaller companies generally don’t.
SAVVY TIP: Some companies offer six months on full pay, especially those in the professional and managerial sectors. Even in the current tough economic times it’s worth seeing what competitors offer and asking your employer if they will match it. The government’s Gov.uk website has a maternity rights and pay section.
Employers can give you childcare vouchers up to £55 a week free of tax and National Insurance. More commonly it involves salary sacrifice, where you give up part of your salary in exchange for the vouchers. Although you receive less pay, you save on tax and National Insurance.
SAVVY TIP: If your employer offers you childcare vouchers worth £55 a week in return for salary sacrifice, you would save up to £904 a year in tax and National Insurance if you’re a basic rate taxpayer. Higher rate taxpayers only receive tax relief at the basic rate.
Typically these policies, which pay part of your income if you cannot work, will be at a subsidised or discounted rate.
SAVVY TIP: Income protection policies can be expensive so tend to be offered by larger employers only.
Medical and dental insurance
This can mean free medical insurance or cover at preferential rates. Although it’s a great benefit for employees, the employer benefits too as it means you’re off work for less time.
SAVVY TIP: Medical and dental insurance are taxable benefits. If you get medical insurance free of charge, you’ll have to pay tax on the amount it costs your employer (which could be several hundred pounds a year). If medical or dental cover is subsidised, you pay tax on the difference between the cost to your employer and the contributions you make.
Free health screening
This can mean anything from a relatively straightforward assessment of blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and blood testing for diabetes and high cholesterol levels to lung function and eye tests.
SAVVY TIP: Although health screening is generally a good idea in that it could alert you to health issues you weren’t aware of, its results could affect insurance policies you take out after you’ve been screened (such as income protection, travel insurance etc).
Employee Benefits is a magazine and website that’s aimed the employee benefits industry, but it has case studies and information about companies that have introduced particular benefits, so it might provide useful research material to back up your case.
You can find out about the rules on flexible working on the government’s Gov.uk website.
Photo credit: pixabay.com.
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