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Benefits — Married? Single? There’s a Difference

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 3, 2019

It’s benefit season. We’re all trying to figure out — employers and employees — what benefits we’ll need and have in 2020.

It turns out that when it comes to benefits being married is much better than being single. Or so says a new report from Thomsons Online Benefits. The firm’s vice president of client solutions is Matthew Jackson. He said married employees get more paid time off and receive more employer-contributions to their healthcare and their pension plans than those that are single.

This is true of 90% of the companies in the U.S.

“I don't think companies are deliberately penalizing single employees, [but] the changing nature of the family structure and what happens outside of work has to be reflected inside of work,” Jackson said.

As proof Jackson took a look at the language that has been used in benefit policies and they tend to be aimed at the traditional family unit.

“The legal definition of partner in a policy, for example, refers to spouse,” Jackson pointed out. “It's about bringing this world more up to date and in line with what society is like today. If companies follow these policies to the letter, it's not inclusive or acknowledges how the workforce is changing.”

Jackson and Thomsons Online Benefits report points to a Census Bureau calculation that says 110.6 million of us — over age 18 — are single. And single women make up a larger part of the workforce than ever.

Benefits — Jackson points out — have not kept up.

  Married employees get an average of 3.6 more days of personal time off

  They get more time for bereavement than single employees

  70% of employers offer family paid leave only to those with children

  This in spite of 39.8 million Americans caring for sick and disabled family or loved ones

“Workplaces need to broaden the definition of things like bereavement leave and partner coverage and broaden the definition of dependent,” Jackson said. “This is where the argument for personalized benefits comes in — you do you, within the boundaries of the law.”

He says healthcare is a good place to start. The Thomsons study found:

  The average monthly married employee health care plan contribution is $462

  The single employee gets an average $344

  In a decade the married employee gets an extra $14,160 in healthcare benefits

“If you’re single, you’re missing out on benefit value. [Employees] can get that back in some sort of health allowance that’s more suited to [their] lifestyle,” Jackson added.

  83% of employers agree that benefits should be offered to all employees equally

  Yet just 59% of companies actually do

Jackson says supporting all workers equally is becoming more and more necessary to keep top employees or to recruit top talent. And offering some people better packages than others can also lead to conflict.

Younger companies — Jackson points out — have figured this out. “The newer companies on the block that aren't burdened with legacy are more likely to be pioneers in this space,” Jackson said and added that older companies are getting the message and making changes.

“It's more impressive when companies are reinventing themselves and transforming the way they do things. They have to undo a lot of norms that have been done for decades,” Jackson concluded. “There's a lot of room and opportunity for change, and it's all certainly moving in the right direction. It's happening right now.”


Source link: Employee Benefit News

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