Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
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Employee benefits include most non-mandatory supplemental compensation offered by a company to their employees. Common benefits include health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, sick leave, paid vacation, retirement programs or pensions, tuition reimbursement, relocation expenses, housing, and child care. Other benefits exist as well, but are less common. Depending on your state, the law might require an employer to offer Social Security, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance. This is where difficulties can arise when not fairly distributed. Additionally, whatever benefit an employer offers and an employee agrees to accept must be consistently and fairly provided, or else the employer could be subject to legal action.
While most employee benefits are only paid in part by the company with the employee required to pay the other part, employees may opt out of these benefit programs if they should choose. While offering employee benefits is not required by law, there are certain minimum standards for benefits such as private industry pensions and health plans that must be met if an employer should choose to voluntarily offer such things. Additionally, if an employer chooses to offer PTO (paid time off work) and an employee separates from the company, different states have different rules regarding if and how any remaining PTO for that employee must be paid out.
What are the Statistics on Employee Benefits?
Even though a wide variety of benefits are not legally required for employers to offer, many workers will choose to accept or reject a job based on the optional benefits a company provides. Additionally, the type and quality of benefits offered can have a significant impact on employee retention and productivity. Let’s go over some optional employment benefits and the percentage of workers who admitted these benefits could affect their decision to accept a job, according to Just Works:
- 88% of workers admitted that the type and quality of healthcare benefits offered by an employer could affect their decision to accept or decline a job position.
- 88% of workers admitted that paid time off work could affect their decision to accept or decline a job position.
- 66% of workers admitted that paid parental leave could impact their decision to accept or decline a job position.
What Can You Do if Your Company Refuses to Offer a Mandatory Benefit?
If an employer chooses not to offer any of the optional employee benefits available to them, there isn’t anything an attorney can do to help, as no company is legally required to offer additional benefits. However, benefits such as unemployment and workers’ compensation are required for employers to offer in most locations. If you think your employer might be violating a mandatory employee benefit law, check your state’s guidelines and contact a labor attorney to discuss your case and eligibility for compensation. Mandatory benefits include:
- Social Security. Social Security is designed to provide aid to people whose income is affected due to age, a disability, and the death of a family member or spouse; however, Social Security primarily benefits retirees and their families. Social Security taxes are generally taken automatically out of an employee’s pay, and put back into a Social Security fund that goes to pay for the people who are already receiving Social Security benefits now. Unused taxes go into a Social Security trust fund to be paid out later to you or others in need. Additionally, employers also pay a Social Security tax to contribute to the Social Security fund.
- Unemployment. Most companies are required to pay unemployment taxes. This money then goes to support workers who find themselves experiencing an employment gap as they seek a new job. Some companies may not be required to pay unemployment tax; for example, in some states religious-affiliated organizations are not required to do so. After losing a job most workers can file online for unemployment benefits which should begin within a few weeks after filing, assuming the worker meets their state’s eligibility requirements.
- Workers’ compensation. Commonly referred to as “workers’ comp”, this is a type of insurance an employer can purchase so that in the case of an employee becoming injured or sick on the job, the employee can receive financial aid to cover medical bills and lost wages. This also protects an employer from the threat of a personal injury lawsuit. In most situations, an employee cannot sue their employer if they are already receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
Compensatory Damages in an Employee Benefits Claim
If you find yourself struggling in a situation due to an employer failing to provide mandatory employee benefits, you could be eligible to take legal action. In these situations, a variety of damages could be compensable depending on what employee benefit was denied and how much damage that denial caused. Compensatory damages that can generally be claimed in an employee benefits claim include the benefits a worker was legally entitled to yet an employer failed to provide.
If you or a loved one have suffered due to a violation of mandatory employee benefits or a failure to provide agreed-upon employee benefits, contact a labor attorney to see how they can help.