Understanding Your Work Benefits Package

With 66% of employees admitting that they would be more likely to stay with an employer who offered them a decent benefits package, the pressure is on for companies to provide perks that count.

Benefits packages can be complicated. They’re made up of many different components to satisfy employees across a range of ages who have a variety of different circumstances outside of work. Some may have families to support, whilst others may have spouses with pre-existing medical conditions that need to be cared for. Here are some of the standard features of a benefits package.

Medical Insurance

Companies often choose a medical insurance policy for staff members with a firm such as BUPA or AXA PPP. Employees should find out who is covered under the policy – does it include your family members or an unmarried partner? You should be aware that not all medical conditions are covered with private healthcare insurance – maternity care is rarely offered for instance, unless there is a problem. You will also need to state pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure.

Dental care or eye care may also be added onto a company’s medical insurance policy. These are fantastic extra benefits to have if they are available.

Understanding Your Work Benefits Package

Private Pension Scheme

This is a fund in which you set aside money from your monthly salary to be used in your retirement.

Since 2012, employers have begun a process of auto-enrolment where they have been obliged to enrol all types of employee into their own workplace pensions. These are now standard and over the next couple of years all employees will be registered whilst the auto-enrolment procedure completes.

The best type of pension scheme on offer is a ‘non-contributory fund’, where your employer matches a certain percentage of your wage and places it into your pension without you having to contribute a penny. Unfortunately, such pensions are rare. It is more common for employers to offer a ‘defined contribution pension’ where both you and your company match a certain percentage of your salary to be put into the fund. Another option is a ‘defined benefit pension’ package which takes certain criteria into account, such as your final salary and how long you’ve worked for your company.

Life Insurance

This may be a morbid subject, but it’s important for all of us to know that we’re able to provide for our loved ones in the event of our death. This type of tax-free lump-sum benefit is sometimes called a ‘Death in Service’ policy which pays out to an employee’s family or whoever is named as their beneficiary. It would be typical for an employer’s insurance provider to pay out four times the final salary of the employee.

Other Benefits

Other benefits might include childcare vouchers which are deducted from a parent’s salary, interest-free loans or travel season ticket schemes. Some companies are even able to provide gym membership.

When you are signing up with a company, it is important that you ask various questions about the general coverage of your benefits package. Be sure to find out when the benefits start – do they kick in from your hire date or do you need to complete a probationary period first? Also check if it is just you that is covered or whether your family members are also insured. Finally, find out which of the benefits are taxable so you can opt out of anything that you don’t believe you’ll use.

Gary Keeley founded The Workplace Pension Consultancy, which provides auto-enrolment advice for businesses that are setting up staff pension plans.

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