The area of employee benefits can be something of a minefield, and employees are increasingly aware of the types of benefits employers should be offering. As an employer, it can be challenging to know what you have to offer instead of what perks you may be able to offer. That’s where an employee benefits specialist comes in, and they are highly skilled in helping you to navigate this tricky area. When it comes to employee benefits, we have to put together the most popular questions you may get asked when you bring someone in for an interview, so it helps if you know them.
What Benefits Are Available for Illness or Injury?
Statutory sick pay is available to most employees, and this covers them for an amount of approximately £96 a week; once they have been off for more than four days, it can then run for a period of up to 28 weeks. In addition, some employers have occupational sick pay. This means that you can offer your employees total compensation or enhanced payment periods when they are off ill. When it comes to benefits, they could also take advantage of sick pay insurance, which generally offers up to a year’s cover once they have been off for a week, providing it is fully paid up.
What About Income Protection?
Similarly, income protection can be provided by an employer under a scheme called group income protection. Again, it would cost an individual less than if they were to find this policy as a single person. There are many different ways that an employer can set up their group income protection policies, giving them the freedom to decide when the policy kicks in—provided that the employee can meet the conditions and the terms of the policy payments can continue for a fixed period until they return to work or potentially until they retire. Or the employer can choose to limit it to a maximum of five years, for example.
What About Dental and Optical?
Again, there is the option to provide optical or dental insurance, which gives back any money spent to the employee after treatment and examination. If the dental work area procedures are costly, it may only contribute to some of the cost, not all. Optical insurance often has extra cover in the form of a lump sum that would payout if there was permanent sight loss or accident.
Do You Offer Private Health Insurance?
Some employers choose to offer access to private medical insurance plans as a corporate cover. Generally, pre-existing conditions are not covered under private medical policies, so it would be up to the employee to provide a medical history when joining the company. Of course, this is private and confidential and only needed by the insurance company as a claim arises. It means that in the event of illness, an employee can choose to use their private medical insurance to bypass NHS waiting lists and access treatment in a private hospital.
What About Pensions?
A pension is a pretty standard employee benefit that you should provide. Generally, the employee and the employer both contribute each month to a pension account. How much pension a person receives depends on the length of service and how the funds perform. As an employer, you should be providing some pension scheme for your employees.
Do You Offer Childcare Vouchers?
We all know that childcare is expensive but very necessary. Tax-free childcare was introduced in April 2018, and it is a benefit that most employers can access on behalf of their employees.
What About a Car Allowance?
This is undoubtedly down to you as an employer to decide whether you will give any form of car allowance. You have two main options; the car allowance basically entitles your employee’s extra payments to purchase a car for work purposes. Alternatively, there may be a mileage allowance so employees can claim per mile for any driving they do as part of their job. Company car schemes provide the vehicle itself and are the most traditional way. Still, again you do not have to provide anything in this area, especially if using a car has nothing to do with the role and simply for commuting. Some car allowances affect National Insurance and also have other reporting obligations, and companies can take advantage of financial benefits with newer cars that have low go to emission.
What About Future Benefits?
If an employee queries future benefits, they are probably talking about something like a workplace ISA or a share scheme. An ISA means that employees can save money as part of the workplace scheme. Money held in an ISA is invested in stocks and shares, and all returns come as a tax-free payment. But there are no guarantees with investing, and the value of what you invest can go up and conversely can go down. Shares can be done in several different ways, including offering the ability to purchase shares in the company at a lower rate or giving free shares an equal measure to those that any employee buys. Finally, you could give your employee’s shares. Suppose you want to use this as a benefit. In that case, the terms and conditions are within your control and can be reserved for employees at a certain level, such as the management or those who have worked for the company and displayed loyalty for over ten years.