8 Employee Benefits to Consider When Applying for New Remote Jobs

employee benefits

Compensation does not only refer to wages. Companies offer a range of employee benefits, such as healthcare and retirement plans, to entice prospective employees and facilitate a supportive work environment. When applying for a new remote job, consider these popular employee benefits in addition to your salary.

8 Employee Benefits to Consider When Applying for New Remote Jobs

As of June 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that 31.7% of employee compensation costs went toward benefits like healthcare insurance and paid leave. Total employee benefits costs have increased steadily since 2004, which means workers have been earning less take-home pay or their potential to earn more take-home pay has decreased.

This data is not surprising. Skim through the career pages on top company websites and you will discover a range of attractive perks that help make work seem like a fun, comfortable space to be every day. Plus, as the average cost of healthcare insurance continuously increases, employers face tough decisions that can dramatically affect employee satisfaction.

As a telecommute jobseeker, it is important to evaluate your entire employment package, not only your salary, and weigh it against your financial, career, and lifestyle needs.

In this article, we discuss eight common employee benefits and how to estimate their contributions toward your total compensation. The information outlined herein primarily applies to W-2 jobs and does not relate to most independent contractor positions, which typically do not come with benefits packages.

Keep in mind, you will not be able to estimate your compensation package until you get an employment offer. In the meantime, you can browse company websites and research online reviews from previous employees for information on what to expect in the compensation department. When you do receive an offer, you can ask for specifics and scrutinize the package to ensure it aligns with your goals and needs.

1. Healthcare Insurance

Healthcare insurance is not cheap, but federal law states all individuals must purchase healthcare insurance or pay a penalty fee. The average cost of a family healthcare insurance plan in 2018 is $19,616 per year, a five-percent increase from the previous year.

Many employers have group plans and offer to pay some or all monthly premium fees. However, federal law does not require employers to provide healthcare insurance or pay for premiums. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) also reports that employer healthcare costs are increasing twice as fast as salaries. To reduce overall healthcare bills, employees can expect to see more virtual healthcare solutions (i.e., telehealth), less cost-sharing with their employers, and more direct contracting with doctors and healthcare systems.

When evaluating your compensation package, also consider the cost your employer is willing to pay for healthcare coverage as well as the type of coverage you will receive. However, you do not necessarily have to earn less if you are given full insurance.

Before you accept a remote job, ask the employer how much will be deducted from your paycheck to cover healthcare, dental, vision, and other health-related benefits. Calculate your take-home pay after all healthcare costs to determine if the salary meets your needs and goals.

Retirement Plans

Retirement plans are investment accounts to where a portion of your paycheck is deducted and transferred. There are different types of retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and SIMPLE IRAs, which companies can offer based on their employee count, financial knowledge, and business strategy. In a way, employers are providing a retirement service, as they save you the hassle of finding your own financial institution and setting up automatic withdraws.

Also, employers may throw in a few bucks every quarter or year based on your contributions and salary. For example, employer matching programs may tack on up to six percent of your salary when you invest a certain percentage of your paycheck to your account. This helps boost your earnings and can be calculated as part of your total compensation.

Though jobseekers may expect retirement benefits from employers these days, the BLS found that only 51% of private sector workers had access to defined contribution retirement plans as of March 2018. This statistic is a reminder that retirement accounts are an employment perk that you should not overlook.

So, get all the facts, such as the type of retirement account and employer matching percentage, from your potential employer.

Estimate the amount you will contribute each year and calculate how much your employer will match. Consider your potential employer’s contribution as part of your annual benefits and add it to your salary.

Paid Time Off

Federal labor laws do not require all employers to pay wages for vacation, sick days, family leave, personal leave, or sabbaticals, regardless of employment status. Also, private companies with less than 50 employees are not required to offer Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage, even if their employees meet all FMLA criteria.

As of March 2018, the BLS found that 15% of full-time civilian workers did not have access to paid sick leave. Additionally, 13% did not have access to paid vacation, and 12% did not have access to paid holidays. Management, business, and financial occupations, as well as registered nurses, seemed to receive the most paid leave benefits compared to other professions.

Still, a majority of companies offer paid vacation, holiday, and sick days to attract and retain employees and create a more flexible workplace.

If you are a new remote worker, you may think that you do not need vacation time because you can work whenever you want. Contrarily, you should always set boundaries and know whether you will get paid during holidays and extended leaves of absences.

If your potential employer does offer paid time off, subtract those days from the number of days you are required to work per year. Then, recalculate your salary based on your actual working days to determine whether your paycheck seems fair or requires negotiation.

Related: 17 Ways to Reduce Work Hours When Telecommuting

Overtime Pay

Federal law states that non-exempt employees are entitled to at least one and one-half times their hourly wage when they work over 40 hours in a standard workweek. Companies have the authority to define their own workweek and establish different workweeks for different employees. For example, they can define a workweek as Tuesday through Sunday and hold regular business hours from 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Employees assigned to such workweeks are not automatically eligible for overtime pay because they work evenings and weekends. Plus, most salaried employees are classified as “exempt,” which means they are not eligible for overtime, even if they regularly pull over 40 hours per week.

When applying for remote jobs, consider the company’s workweek, regular business hours, and typical workflow. Also, check whether the role is classified as “exempt” or “non-exempt” to determine whether you are eligible for overtime pay according to federal law.

Telecommute nurses, customer service representatives, and news editors, for instance, may be expected to work non-traditional hours and days, but they may be exempt from overtime. For non-exempt positions, you may not want to rely on overtime as part of your regular salary, but it is nice to know whether a company is going to give you extra cash when you exceed your standard work agreement.

Volunteer Days

Companies want to boost their public image and retain employees, so they come up win-win-wins for employees, employers, and the greater community. Paid volunteer days allow employees to perform community service without taking off work or sacrificing pay.

For instance, you can help at a shelter for two hours every month until your allotment runs out, or you can participate in a whole-day event and use your hours once per year.

In either case, you may have to work at the company for a defined period (e.g., six months or one year) before you can use your volunteer days. If you intend to stay with the company beyond the qualification period, then add those extra hours to your salary and assess whether the extra pay entices you enough to join the team (and serve your community).

Bonuses

Companies offer different types of bonuses to attract and retain top employees. Some employers may offer a sign-on bonus to lure you in and make you commit to working for them for a defined period. Some also give employees end-of-the-year bonuses to share any extra profit and reward professional achievements. However, bonuses are not as popular as they used to be. Aon’s 2017 U.S. Salary Increase Survey results uncovered that companies are spending 12.5% of their payroll on variable expenses, such as bonuses, which is a significant decrease from past years.

Though you can incorporate sign-on bonuses into your salary calculations, it is risky to assume and estimate an annual, end-of-the-year bonus.

If you consistently receive annual bonuses from a company after working there a few years, the next time you search for a new job, you can certainly use your past earnings to negotiate pay with a potential new employer.

Tuition Reimbursement

Four-year undergraduate tuition is on average $8,778 for in-state public schools, $24,854 for out-of-state schools, and $29,478 for private schools.

If an employer offers tuition reimbursement, you could save yourself tens of thousands of dollars.

There is usually a catch, however. Most companies require that you work for the company for a certain number of years or hours before you are eligible and continue working after graduation for a set number of years. Otherwise, you will have to pay all the money back. So, if it is worth it to you to stick with a company that will pay for your education, you can add your annual tuition to your salary and potentially look forward to a pay increase upon graduation.

Professional Development

Many companies offer access to online resources and reimbursements for books, classes, and coaching sessions that directly relate to your occupation and help you do your job better. They may even pay for your travel, lodging, and meals while you are at conferences and workshops.

Additionally, more employers are paying for professional certification exams to help train their employees and entice hard workers to stick around. For example, The Linux Foundation and Dice found that 55% of employers paid for at least some certification costs for their information technology employees. With professional certification exams ranging from $150 to over $1000, this perk can undoubtedly save you money and increase your earning potential with a new credential.

Related: Online Courses: 4 Tips for Taking Your Remote Career to the Next Level

Other Perks

Employers have all sorts of fancy perks they like to add to the mix to help employees feel comfortable and supported. For example, companies may offer free coffee, fitness classes, and weekly happy hours to their in-office staff. Remote employees usually do not get to enjoy such incentives, however. So, telecommute-friendly firms may pay for fitness center memberships, new computers or equipment, co-working memberships, and other services to help compensate typical telecommuting expenses.

As a jobseeker, your task is to examine each perk and determine whether it adds value to your lifestyle and saves you money.

If the incentives apply to you, then you can add the estimated costs to your overall salary to evaluate your total employment compensation package. If the incentives do not apply to you, then you will not gain anything from them, so you should not include them in your overall compensation.

Want to Reap the Benefits of Remote Work?

Virtual Vocations makes it easy for you to find and research telecommute-friendly companies that offer comprehensive employee benefits packages. When you sign up as a member, you gain access to our entire telecommute-friendly company database, which contains descriptions and job listings for over 13,700 organizations that hire remote workers.

Remember, before you apply for a job, look at a company’s website for general information about employee benefits. You typically will not learn the details until you receive an offer, but at least you will know what to expect. When you do get an offer, you can ask for more specific information to help you make an informed decision.

Looking for remote job search inspiration? Check out this video on the Top 20 Telecommute Jobs of 2018!

Which of these employee benefits is most important to you when considering your compensation packageConnect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn to tell us about the employee benefits you value most. We’d love to hear from you! 

Photo Credit: 1. iStock.com/krung99


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