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What Employers Offer

Have you just been offered a job? Ask for a list of the included benefits.

Part of the negotiation of a job offer is to look at the benefits offered. To evaluate a benefits package, begin with these questions.

  • What benefit programs does the employer offer?
  • Are the programs offered important to you?
  • What do you need to do to be eligible?
  • Which benefit costs does the employer pay for?
  • Which benefit costs will you have to pay for?
  • Does the company offer family coverage? Are there other family-friendly offers?
  • Is there flexibility in working hours and in the use of paid time off?

Remember, you are not in a position to negotiate money or benefits until after you receive a job offer.

Types of Benefits

Medical insurance covers the costs of physician and surgeon fees, hospital rooms, and prescription drugs. Dental and optical care might be separate or part of an overall benefits package. Coverage can sometimes include your family or dependents. Employers usually pay all or part of the medical insurance. You will likely pay a percentage of the monthly cost.

Disability insurance replaces all or part of your lost income if you are unable to do your job because of illness or injury. There are two main types of disability insurance: short-term and long-term. This benefit is not commonly offered.

Life insurance protects your family in case you die. Benefits are paid all at once to the beneficiaries of the policy, usually your spouse or children. You can get life insurance through an employer if they sponsor a group plan.

Retirement benefits are funds set aside to provide you with an income or pension when you end your career. There are two main types. Defined benefit plans, sometimes called pensions, have a pre-determined benefit amount based on salary and years of service. Defined contribution plans, like 401k plans, have specified employer and employee contributions, but they are usually tied to investment returns so not guaranteed.

Domestic partner benefits are benefits offered to unmarried domestic partners. Some employers offer these, while others do not. A common domestic-partner benefit is access to family health insurance, but that benefit is considered taxable income by the federal government.

Paid time off, sometimes called PTO, is earned while you work. The most common types are holidays, sick leave, and vacation. Most employees earn vacation, sick leave, and paid holidays as separate benefits. Some employers combine sick leave and vacation into one account to use as needed.

Fringe benefits are non-cash payments used to attract and retain employees. They may include tuition assistance, flexible medical or child care spending accounts, other child care benefits, and non-production bonuses (not tied to performance). Tuition assistance is especially important if you plan to take classes in your personal time. This can be a great way to advance in your career. Most employers require courses that are related to your job duties.

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