Employee benefits are non-waged compensations that are provided by employers to their employees in addition to their wages or salaries payment. Some employee benefits are required by the law such as social security, unemployment compensations and worker compensations while others vary from one organization to the other such as health insurance, life insurance, and medical plan, paid vacation and pension.
Employee benefits can be tangible or intangible. Tangible employee benefit includes benefit such as pension pay, vacation pay and maternity leave to mention but a few. Intangible employee benefits are benefits which are not so direct such includes; appreciation, nice office and likelihood of promotion. The major types of employee benefits are insurance which encompasses medical, dental ,unemployment, and worker’s compensation; vacation pay, holiday pay , pension pay, maternity leave , profit sharing , day care , tuition reimbursement, sick leave and disability income protection.
Not all benefits are paid by the employers. There are some benefits which are employee paid benefit. For instance while many companies usually pays most of the benefits such as vocation and holiday benefits, some benefits like medical insurance are paid through cost sharing between the employer and employee because they incur high cost to be meet by the employer alone. Also there is other form of benefits referred to as perks. These are benefits which are optional that are given to the employees because of their noticeable performance or are of high ranks. Such includes company cars, hotels stays, leisure activities, lunch allowances and stationery among many others. 
Different types of employee benefits do affect employee job satisfaction, retention and commitment in different ways. Employee job satisfaction regards to the reactions an employee has towards particular job he or she is doing. If an employee has a good feeling towards the job, then there is job satisfaction. This is reflected by how one turns up for a job, relationship with others, how well an employee responds to instructions and performance in the duties assigned. The following is a detailed discussion of the major employee benefits:
2.0 Health insurance
Health insurance is a form of insurance that pays one medical expenses. It can be provide by either government-sponsored social insurance programs or by private insurance companies. Social insurance program can be bought by individual consumers or else be purchased on group basis like firms that buy to cover its employees. Those who get insured by this type are required to play premiums or taxes in order to cater for future unexpected or high healthcare expenses. It is broad because it can covers disability, long term nursing or custodial acre.
Health insurance is a form of contract between the individual and the insuring company. It can be renewed on monthly or annually basis. There are of different form of payments by which the policy holder can use. There is use of premiums where the policy holder purchases health coverage every month. A deductible payments use out –of- pocket policy is one of them. The policy holder here is required to first pay the health care service charged before the health plan pays. Based on the policy itself, the policy holder may be required to pay certain amount of money per year before the health insurance plan comes in. Therefore, this may take one to make several visits in the hospital before the health plan can starts to pay the care.
In co-payment form of health insurance, there is a certain amount of money which must be paid for every doctor’s visit or prescription by the policy-holder besides what health plan will pay. The difference between deductibles and co-payment is that for the former it requires policy holder to reach certain limit of health care payment before they can take over while the latter requires certain payment out of the pocket of policy holder for health services provided in each visit to the health care and the remaining amount to be met by the health plan.
Another, form of individual policy-holders payment is coinsurance. This form requires the policy holder to pay certain percentage of the health care and the rest is met by the health plan. It difers with the co-payment in that whereas in co-payment there is a fixed amount which has to be paid ,coinsurance requires the policy holder to pay a percentage of the total cost without .It does not have the upper limit which needs to be meet first by policy holder. For the exclusion form of insurance the terms are that not all the services are covered. Policy holder is expected to meet all the cost of non covered services. Lastly, there is coverage limits as another form of insurance policy. The health plan is able to cover health care expenses up to a certain limit beyond which the policy holder is now responsible to meet the remaining cost. These are some of the types of health insurance cover employee can take.
3.0 Disability income compensation
Another form of employee benefit is disability income or disability income insurance. It addresses the situation to an event that when one is longer able to work how the living expenses will be meet expenses. Therefore, disability insurance pays an income to the insured person who is not able to continue working because of the accident or illness. It can complement the health insurance and replace the lost income. To replace an income lost there are three basic ways namely; employers-paid disability insurance, social security disability benefits and individual disability income policies. Employer-paid disability insurance is mandatory in some countries. Many employers provide some short term leave under this provision while still a good number of them provide long term disability coverage that ranges from five years to age of sixty five and even some extend for life time.
Social security disability benefits are paid to workers who have disability that is expected to last at least for twelve months , with severity to a point that no gainful work can be done. The last type of income replacement is individual income insurance policies. It applies to workers with special circumstances from workers compensation like those which results from injury or illness related with job, auto insurance and those in department of Veterans Affairs. The premiums for disabilities are based on age, sex, occupation and the amount of potential the lost income is to be protected. It is usually based on the likelihood of the harm one can get from the nature of occupation one is engaged. If there is high probability of the risk then the premium cost is also relatively high.
Some of the disability policies pay benefits only if you are not able to perform the normal duties pertaining to your occupation while still others they pay if one is unable to do any job that is related to individual’s education and experience. It is worth noting that no laws demand employers to provide for long term disability cover. However, almost half of large and medium sized employers do offer it to their employees. It is advised that individual income policy is the best for ensuring that there is adequate income in case of disability. Nevertheless, insurers rarely will they allow complete replacement of individuals income because they reserved this to be an incentive for going back to work. If one gets long term disability benefits, replacement can be as high as 60% of worker’s salary. This type of income replacement is paid by the employers wholesomely. But in this case, individuals who receive employer-paid disability income, it is subject to the state income tax on the benefits especially if the company does not pay on behalf of their employees.
A competitive package of health insurance cover plays a significant role in attracting and retaining competent workers and average performers in and organization especially in present tight labor market. Group heath insurance is the most preferred by the people for their health coverage. In fact it is the best possible and affordable health coverage for the employees and the only way employees can get the maternity leave coverage for those who do not have individual health insurance policy. However, if an individual leave the job, employer’s support is definitely lost and in certain cases one may be required to pay premiums on his or her own. Therefore, it has been observed that in large companies comprehensive benefits like health insurance benefits are very enticing to prospective employees. It is indisputable that competitive health care benefit packages not only do they attract employees but also help to retain them.
4.0 Day care
Another type of employee benefit is the day care. It can be referred to as a care give to the child by any person other than the parent or the child’s custodian during the day. The service is also known as child care. Usually it is provided in nurseries or by child minders in their home or specialized child care facility.
There are some work places where employers do provide their employees with day care facilities. There are several advantages associated with employee day care benefit both to the employer and employees. First, number of times when the employee is not in the place of work to care for the child is minimized. This is because even when the child is sick there is special unit in day care facility that caters for such a need. According to a survey carried out in Minnesota, it was found that many parents reported problems with child care arrangements that adversely affected them to get a job or retain the one they currently held and consequently leading them to loose income.
Also it ha been observed that when employee do not have worries of their child care and they are able to have access to their children conveniently in place of work, they tend to put more concentration on their duties and have good performance. There is also low probability of leaving the job to attend their children. On other hand, employers who have day care on near site the place of work or make for child care subsides, they are less likely to experience high rate of employees’ turnover. As the workers struggle with child care, the effect is also felt by employers.
Therefore, reliable and stable day care can help the employee have a steady employment and hence reduce workplace absentesim.This is true because working parents who have a reliable child care face little child interruptions that can affect their performance in the workplace as compared to those who do not have any reliable child care. Day care employee benefit positively does increase job satisfaction, retention and commitment to the job.
5.0 Sick leave
Sick leave is another type of the employee benefit. It is a term that is used to refer an employee benefit in form of a paid leave that an employee can have during the time of sickness either to seek treatment or to go and care any ailing family member. The most common use of sick leave is to give chance workers to stay at home when sick without loosing their payment. It is also possible for the employers to pay sick leave days to be used to care other family members, to receive regular preventive medical check ups from the doctor or allow victims of domestic violence to attend to their safety and health needs. This is considered to be the best way to address spread of contagious illness such as flu in public places and contribute to long-term health of the employees.
Sick leaves can only to be enjoyed for limited number of days for health related issues. There are different sick leave provisions depending on countries and industries. Therefore, the need for paid sick days are necessary because if one does not have time at least to rest for a few days to facilitate recuperation disease condition may worsen and result to long period of recovery. For mothers with young child and both parents are working it may necessitate the need for paid sick leave for the mother to attend to the sick child. However, employers are not mandated by the law to provide paid sick leave to their employees. But it is important to express their terms to employees concerning incapability to work which may happen due to illness or personal injury. It is not unusual to find that employers are so often in contact with the employees who are on sick leave intending to know when they will report back to work which sometimes make them feel harassed.
If an employee fall sick during holiday it likely that the sick leave does not apply unless it is indicated on the contract terms. It is not surprisingly to find that some employers may refuse to accept their employees after sick leave until they are certified by occupational health specialists. In such a case then it is required that employee to be paid at normal rate because it is employer who is preventing such employee to go back to work. If the period of days for sick leave increases due to sickness, there comes a chance of protection by Disability Discrimination Act. If it is not applicable the employee’s absence on long term leave must not be considered on situation such as redundancy. On the other hand if employer has suspicion that the employee is not sick and it is playing a trick, in such situation, employer is may conduct surveillance during this period of sick leave. However, this can amount to breach of human rights or duty of mutual trust and confidence in regard to this situation, these scenarios increasingly.
Sick leave benefit seems to have more potential negative than positive one to employees in terms of job retention. Even though employee gets some ample time to rest and gain strength for a better work output, not many employers are for it because they consider it to have adverse effects in their production performance. This poses a challenge especially for employees who get sick leave as often because it has impact on redundancy. This may be seen when employers are implementing cost cutting initiatives to contain predicted decline in the firms output. Such employees may be the target especially where the employer redundancy selection exercise is not purely based on acts of good faith. This consequently may amount to retrenchment of employee or transfer to a new working station which certainly affect employee job satisfaction and or loss of job through retrenchment.
Also, demands to pay sick leaves by employers seem to be a threat to benefits and jobs. This is due to the fact that it imposes significant added cost to the firms forcing employers to make up for the added cost in some ways like reducing other benefits or increase the contributions employees pay for their health acre.
Pension is another type of employee benefit .It refers to a consistent income given to a person during retirement period. There are different forms of retirements. Occupational or employment pension is a kind of pension that is provided by the employers. Also, the government and labor unions may fund the pension plan. Occupational pension is actually an example of deferred compensation where a portion of an employee income is paid out later when the income is earned.
The pension provided by employers is essential part of retirement security. However, only a few make such provisions and those who do it, is in form of a defined-contribution plan rather than traditional defined benefit pension plans. Defined –benefit pension plans have guaranteed fixed monthly income. They are funded by employer through tax-exempted contributions. Many companies do not opt for defined-benefit, rather they support defined contribution pension plan. In defined-contribution, the employer contributes a fixed amount to the set plan each year and this helps shift investment risk and responsibility to the employees.
This is because the organization promises to pay a certain benefit to the retired employee in defined –contribution. Therefore, for it to meet this obligation it need to invest wisely to fulfill the promise making many firms to evade it.
However, under defined contribution plan instead of employer paying fixed benefit directly to the retired employee, employer only contribute a specific amount of money to their retirement accounts and any gain or losses on the retirement investments they are on employee side. In fact defined -contribution is also referred to as profit sharing. Pension plans may see significant deductions on the employee income. This may cause job dissatisfaction to some of employees and make them feel like moving to another job.
7.0 Maternity leave
Maternity leave is a form of employee benefit that aims at allowing mother to take time off the work following the birth of a child. An employee can be given a leave some time before the expected due date to go and rest a she make necessary preparation. According to labor standards legislation an employee who is expectant is in some situation entitled to certain duration of unpaid leave. When employee resume to work she is supposed to return to her former position or be given equivalent duties that is with the same salary and benefits. This helps to retain employees in work without necessarily loosing their jobs.
8.0 Vacation and holiday pays
Lastly there is vacation pay and holiday pay as form of employee benefit. Vacation pay is intended to give employees rest annually from work without loss of income. Basically the entitlement to annual vacation provides that after one year of employment employee is entitled to two weeks vacation with pay and after five years of employment, employee is entitled to three weeks vacation with pay. Also, employees have right to take minimum amount of paid statutory holiday. Vacations and holiday pays as forms of employee benefit create time for employees to have time to rest without loss of income.
Employee benefit can be considered to be non-waged compensation to the employees. They include various types such as health insurance, maternity leave, day care, disability income protection, pension, and holiday pay and vacation pay. Employee benefits offer several advantages both to employers and employee in terms of job satisfaction and retention. For instance, if the employer has competitive employee packages it will attracts and retain competent and average employees. It also improves efficiency and productivity because employees are satisfied with their job because of assured security of themselves and their families.
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