Employers offer their employees many benefits. The benefits that are offered can be confusing and complicated to sort through. However, if you know what to look for, you will be ready to negotiate some of these benefits before accepting an offer of employment. Below are a few benefits working parents should advocate for during their job search or with their current employer.
Benefits Working Parents Should Look For:
Dependent Care Account
Dependent Care Accounts allow working parents to use their pre-tax income to pay for daycare expenses. By contributing pre-tax income, parents can reduce their tax rate for an expense that may be required for their children's care while at work. If you owe money when you file your taxes, using the Dependent Care Account is an optimal benefit. Even if you don't owe the IRS when you file your taxes, reducing your tax rate can still be beneficial at times. There are IRS limits, and the amount your employer will allow you to contribute can vary. With this type of plan, employers do not contribute any funds. You must also use any funds you contribute by the deadline or forfeit your reimbursements.
Flexible Spending Account
Flexible Spending Accounts are employer-sponsored plans that allow you to contribute pre-tax income for future medical or dental care and other medical supplies. An FSA is beneficial to parents who have young children who often need to be seen by doctors. This type of account is even helpful for expenses such as assistive devices, medical equipment, hearing aids, and other medical supplies not covered by most plans.
See my feature in Smart Ways Use Up Your FSA Before the Year Ends.
Tuition Reimbursement or Scholarships
College can be expensive, and every dollar counts when funding your education or your child's education. Parents should look for scholarships and tuition offerings. Some organizations offer scholarships for employees' children up to a specific age limit. Knowing the requirements of employer scholarship programs can help you prepare your child to be eligible when it's time to apply. In addition, most employers will pay for an employee's tuition if it is relevant to their current profession. The IRS limits employer reimbursements up to $5,250 annually. Employers can decrease the annual amount, but this tax-free benefit can reduce or eliminate the need for a student loan.
Video: 5 Ways To Avoid Student Loan Debt
If you are a parent with school-age children, you may want to take time off for holidays, during spring break or the summer. Negotiating the vacation days you may be eligible for should be accomplished before accepting a position. Typically, once you accept the vacation days available, it won't be easy to adapt this when employed. It's also important to understand when you are eligible to use any accrued vacation. Some employers require employees to be employed for six months before they are eligible. So, ask employers how your vacation days are accrued and attempt to advocate for more.
How Many Holidays Does Your Employer Offer?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employer offers 7.6 holidays to its employees. Any more than that, and you may be looking at an above-average employer. Suppose your employer provides the average number of holidays working parents should consider advocating for more. More holidays can enhance employees' work-life balance and decrease the need to use limited vacation days to fill in the blanks when children do not have school or daycare available.
The COVID pandemic has caused more employees to either work from home or required them to go back to work without adequate daycare or eldercare. Employers should consider offering reimbursements or other special offerings for caretaking assistance through community or national partners. Caretaking benefits could include options for in-home daycare, remote monitoring reimbursements, and even support for after-school programs. Offering this benefit could encourage employees to return to the office or eliminate some of the distractions of remote working.
Employer Discount Programs
Many employers offer discount programs to employees, which can be beneficial when looking to save vehicle purchases or travel during the summer and winter seasons. These programs can come at no cost to employers and save you hundreds to thousands of dollars. If your employer does not offer a discount program with local car dealerships or national perks websites, you can advocate with your HR department to get them included.
Here are some employee perk websites that are currently available.
Perks at Work
Whatever added benefit an organization offers, many of the benefits listed above are employee-funded and can enhance an employee's work-life balance and lead to happier, healthier employees.