In a recent blog, we discussed developing an HR department for new employers. A significant piece of this is putting together a benefit package. There are the benefits required by law and those that employers choose to offer employees in an effort to improve work-life balance (and to retain great talent). It takes some finesse to create a package that is useful and appealing, so in this blog we’re going to share how to find that perfect balance.
What’s required, to name just a few
You’re going to have to do some homework to familiarize yourself with the benefits that state and federal law mandates employers provide to staff, but here’s a quick snapshot of what needs to be included:
- Equal pay and salary history inquiries. CA law requires that employers pay their staff equally for the same work (need a reminder on pay equity? Here you go) and also protects potential employees from disclosing their past salaries to employers. Why? It helps to ensure they are paid fairly for their work.
- Pregnancy accommodations. There are numerous pregnancy-related adjustments that employees are entitled to such as rest breaks, the option to sit, and working modifications (eg equipment). Read up on these!
- Whistleblower protections. California protects whistleblowers (a person who informs authorities of a company’s unlawful activity) from retaliation by the employer.
- Overtime. California is strict about overtime. The state requires that employees be paid one-and-a-half times their regular pay rate when working more than 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week, or six consecutive days in a workweek.
- Meal and rest breaks. Providing 30 minute meals breaks is required if an employee works more than 5 hours in a day. Meanwhile a rest break must be provided if the employee works 3½ hours or more in a day (breaks down to one 10 minute rest break per 4 hours worked).
- Breastfeeding accommodations. Employers are required to provide a private room for expressing milk. A toilet stall does NOT count. In addition, while they are not required to allow for nursing children to be brought to the workplace, they are required to allow for direct nursing should this occur.
Paid and unpaid leave benefits
- FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). The FMLA allows employees to take unpaid leave with job protection. It covers up to 12 weeks per year for personal or family-related medical leave that requires the employee to take time off of work in order to address.
- PFL (Paid Family Leave). PFL is essentially an extension of unemployment disability, it provides compensation for individuals who need to take time off work to provide caregiving to a family member or to bond with a new child.
- Sick leave. Under this CA law, employers are entitled to allow for 24 hours (or three days) of paid sick days per year. Employees must accrue this time and do so as follows: for every 30 hours they work they will receive one hour of paid sick leave.
Popular benefit trends
Employers have been taking note of what their employees need in order to thrive both at work and at home, all the while adjusting their own strategies and goals in order to meet those needs. So let’s identify a few benefits that employers should offer in order to maintain a positive work environment.
- Mental health coverage. This trend has really gained momentum in recent years, and for good reason. The option for employees to attend to their mental health is vital for work/life balance. Make sure management is trained in guiding employees to the correct mental health assistance they need.
- Expanded caregiving coverage. Expanded coverage in programs focused on chronic illness care, such as diabetes or family services like prenatal care, are getting a lot of traction lately. To compliment these services, there are app-based tools available so that employees can easily take control of their own healthcare.
- “Fun” benefits. They’re easy for employers to offer and they make a real difference in the workplace culture. Offering company-wide wellness retreats, unlimited vacation/flexible schedules, and an employee development program really sets the tone that the company is invested in the wellbeing of their employees. Remember, there’s a benefit for every budget, if some of these sound a little out of range.
A quick piece of advice
Unfortunately, employees often don’t dig deep enough into their healthcare and benefits plan to really know what services are available to them. During the onboarding and open enrollment processes, make sure employees understand options so they can make the best decision. Also, make sure they know how to use a plan. Simply listing what is covered in a plan won’t be enough for a person to make an informed choice.
As an employer one of the most important tasks you have is educating yourself on the protections employees are entitled to receive. If you need a team that can ensure your employees are fully protected under your company’s care, reach out to us! Eos HR offers small businesses an HR department that will help them be successful employers. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.
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