So instead of focusing on increasing our income, we need to start looking beyond our salaries to see what our employee benefits packages can do for us. Once you fully understand what your benefits package provides, you might be surprised at how much money you’re leaving on the table each year. Here are some common incentives in an employee benefits package.
â€¨Even if it isn’t stated in the company handbook, most companies and departments have a yearly training budget for employees. This can be utilized to take courses to help you improve on a skill, or go toward a diploma or degree program you’ve wanted to take in your spare time.
â€¨Medical and health benefits usually confuse people. There are deductibles and maximums to be aware of, as well as what is covered. Some benefits plans will cover certain prescriptions, while others won’t. Some will cover chiropractor and acupuncture, and others will only cover a percentage of your treatment. Make a point to understand your plan.
Health spending accountâ€¨
Within your medical benefits, there is sometimes an amount you can draw from -- usually between $200 and $500 each year -- in order to pay for expenses that aren’t covered with the benefits package. For example, if your benefits cover 80 per cent of your prescription coverage and 75 per cent of massage therapy appointments, you could claim the additional out-of-pocket expenses and draw from your Health Spending Account. Some Health Spending Accounts even let you use the money for fitness memberships and gear -- so that nice yoga mat you've been looking at might be within reach.
â€¨If your company offers to match your RSP contribution, you need to be utilizing it immediately -- otherwise, you’re just throwing away free money. Let's say you make $50,000 at your job and your company matches up to 3 per cent of your annual salary. If you put $1,500 (3 per cent of $50,000) into an RSP, your employer will match that amount by contributing $1,500 into your RSP as well.
You might be surprised at what kinds of discounts your company offers, and not just on its own products. If your employer is part of an umbrella corporation, or is partnered with other companies, you could receive deep discounts on anything from hotel stays and car rentals, to clothing and shoes.
â€¨If you need an explanation on what you are covered for, ask your Human Resources department, or contact the company your coverage is with. It’s always better to get clarification and confirmation on what is and isn’t covered. Remember that some benefits programs will automatically deduct the cost of prescriptions, dental visits and medical procedures up front, and some companies will require you to pay first and wait for a reimbursement cheque. Make sure you know exactly how much money you need to put down, so there are no surprises.
Your salary and vacation time are a part of your employee compensation package, but so are your extended benefits. It might seem like an arduous task to try and understand what you are covered for. But by not taking advantage of what you have, you are potentially losing out on hundreds of dollars in savings each year.
Page 1 of 1