Job Offer Benefits Guide

You got the job! Now its time to look into your benefits

In your job offer letter, there should be an outline of what benefits the company offers and which ones you are eligible for based on your new-hire status. Always read these carefully before signing anything. Here is everything you need to know!

Are benefits negotiable?

Yes and no. If your company doesn’t have certain benefits, you likely won’t be able to talk them into adding a completely new benefit. Additionally, when you’re just starting out, you may not be eligible for the same benefits as those who have been with the company for 1-2+ years. Be patient and wait for the right time to negotiate adding these benefits when the time is right.

Always ask about benefits before you sign the official offer. You can ask about negotiations during this time and make any changes if possible. If you’re unhappy with what’s offered, you are able to look elsewhere for certain benefits like healthcare. If you’re under 26, you have the option to waive the company’s health care and stay on your parents plan (if they allow it!).

Legally required benefits

By law, all companies have to provide the following:

  • Minimum wage
  • Overtime pay
  • Social security benefits (unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation)

If you find that one of these options is not provided or your employer denies any of these benefits, be sure to inform them that these are required by law.

Salary

Your starting salary will depend on a few factors: the industry, job location (income varies from state to state), your starting position, and the availability of similar candidates in your area. It’s always a good idea to research what your average salary would be based on similar positions in your area.

If the starting salary is not what you had expected or not enough to make a living, try to negotiate before the offer. Be sure you can back up your counteroffer and prove why you feel that you deserve a higher pay. This is where your research will come in handy!

Note: If you have no intention of accepting the job offer (for whatever reason) don’t waste the employer’s time trying to negotiate a salary. Negotiation should be for jobs that you’re really passionate about but may not be able to accept if the salary doesn’t support your current expenses or you truly feel like the position deserves a higher pay.

Paid leave

PTO (paid time off) is one of the biggest perks of the corporate world. Yes, that’s right, you make money even if you’re not at work! The number of PTO days you have varies widely depending on the company, how long you’ve been with the company, and a few other factors.

Some PTO is front loaded, meaning you get access to all of your days off on the first of the year (or upon starting your job). Some paid leave is accrued, meaning you access a fraction of your overall PTO each day and you can use what you accrue as you accrue it. Other types of PTO are accrued but accessible at any time of the year, but if you were to leave the position before you accrue what’s remaining of the negative balance, you wouldn’t get paid out those days. If you do not understand the policy be sure to ask HR, as each company may be a little different.

Health benefits/services

Not all companies have health benefits, so if you are no longer on your parents’ insurance you will want to do your research to make sure you’ll have access to sufficient health insurance in your new position. Even if you don’t anticipate needing to go to the doctor often, you never know what could happen. Also, health benefits extend far beyond the doctors office.

Eye care and dental are also often part of the health plan. If you wear contacts and have recurring costs to replace your lenses each month, having a benefit plan will help you out immensely. Your company’s health plan may include an FSA (Flex Spending Account), a preloaded card for health expenses that is pre-taxed. That means if you put the maximum $500 on the card you can spend the entire amount.

Just because your company offers these benefits, that does not mean you HAVE to enroll in their plan. There are typically different options based on your specific needs, and you have the ability to waive any or all of the benefits available (which you would want to do if you are still on your parents’ insurance).

Even if you’re young and fairly healthy, it’s always a safe bet to make sure your company offers both short and long-term disability. You never know what could happen, and as the old saying goes, “better safe than sorry!”

Retirement planning

You are never too young to start thinking about retirement. It’s increasingly important to start saving now! Most employers offer 401K plans which match your retirement savings (under certain conditions). Always check with HR to make sure you understand the conditions that you have to meet in order for the company to match the money you put into your 401K.

It may require you to work with the company for a certain number of years, they may only match up to a certain amount (usually 3-6%), or they may have a defined contribution plan. This means they will pay a monthly amount to you after you retire. This amount is based on your salary and the number of years you worked with the company.

Extra Benefits

Some (lucky) offer their employees additional benefits like legal services, gym memberships, child/pet care, and more. Generally larger companies and corporations have access to these types of benefits.

Don’t worry if your company doesn’t offer these or only offers these benefits to higher management. Use it as your motivation to climb the ladder!

Every job opportunity will have its own unique benefits plan. Part of accepting a job is accepting everything that comes (or doesn’t come) with it! Not having pet care or a free gym membership is probably not a good reason to turn down a job. But seriously evaluate the company’s benefits plan entirely each time you start a new opportunity. It’s important for your health and overall happiness at work!

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