TYPES OF FRINGE BENEFITS
Organizations provide a variety of fringe benefits. The fringe benefits are classified under four heads as given here under:
1.For Employment Security :
Benefits under this head include unemployment, insurance, technological adjustment pay, leave travel pay, overtime pay, level for negotiation, leave for maternity, leave for grievances, holidays, cost of living bonus, call-back pay, lay-off, retiring rooms, jobs to the sons/daughters of the employees and the like.
2.For Health Protection:
Benefits under this head include accident insurance, disability insurance, health insurance, hospitalization, life insurance, medical care, sick benefits, sick leave, etc.
3.For Old Age and Retirement:
Benefits under this category include: deferred income plans, pension, gratuity, provident fund, old age assistance, old age counseling , medical benefits for retired employees, traveling concession to retired employees, jobs to sons/daughters of the deceased employee and the like.
4.For Personnel Identification, Participation and Stimulation:
This category covers the following benefits: anniversary awards, attendance bonus, canteen, cooperative credit societies, educational facilities, beauty parlor services, housing, income tax aid, counseling, quality bonus, recreational programs, stress counseling, safety measures etc.
The fringe benefits are categorized as follows:
a)Payment for Time Not worked: Benefits under this category include: sick leave with pay, vacation pay, paid rest and relief time, paid lunch periods, grievance time, bargaining time, travel time etc.
b)Extra Pay for time Worked: This category covers the benefits such as: premium pay, incentive bonus, shift premium, old age insurance, profit sharing, unemployment compensation, Christmas bonus, Deewali or Pooja bonus, food cost subsidy, housing subsidy, recreation.
Physical and job security to the employee should also be provided with a view to promoting security to the employee and his family members. The benefit of confirmation of the employee on the job creates a sense of job security. Further a minimum and continuous wage or salary gives a sense of security to the life.
The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 provides for the payment of compensation in case of lay-off and retrenchment. The non-seasonal industrial establishments employing 50 or more workers have to give one month’s notice or one month’s wages to all the workers who are retrenched after one year’s continuous service. The compensation is paid at the rate of 15 days wage for every completed year of service with a maximum of 45 days wage in a year. Workers are eligible for compensation as stated above even in case of closing down of undertakings.
In case of lay-off, employees are entitled to lay-off compensation at the rate to 50% of the total of the basic wage and dearness allowance for the period of their lay-off except for weekly holidays. Lay-off compensation can normally be paid up to 45 days in a year.
Safety and Health
Employee’s safety and health should be taken care of in order to protect the employee against accidents, unhealthy working conditions and to protect worker’s capacity. In India, the Factories Act, 1948, stipulated certain requirements regarding working conditions with a view to provide safe working environment. These provisions relate to cleanliness, disposal of waste and effluents, ventilation and temperature, dust and fume, artificial humidification, over-crowding, lighting, drinking water, latrine urinals, and spittoons. Provisions relating to safety measures include fencing of machinery, work on or near machinery in motion, employment of young persons on dangerous machines, striking gear and devices for cutting off power, self-acting machines, easing of new machinery, probation of employment of women and children near cotton openers, hoists and lifts, lifting machines, chains ropes and lifting tackles, revolving machinery, pressure plant, floors, excessive weights, protection of eyes, precautions against dangerous fumes, explosive or inflammable dust, gas etc. Precautions in case of fire, power to require specifications of defective parts of test of stability, safety of buildings and machinery etc.
OBJECTIVES OF FRINGE BENEFITS
The view point of employers is that fringe benefits form an important part of employee incentives to obtain their loyalty and retaining them. The important objectives of fringe benefits are:
1.To create and improve sound industrial relations
2.To boost up employee morale.
3.To motivate the employees by identifying and satisfying their unsatisfied needs.
4.To provide qualitative work environment and work life.
5.To provide security to the employees against social risks like old age benefits and maternity benefits.
6.To protect the health of the employees and to provide safety to the employees against accidents.
7.To promote employee’s welfare by providing welfare measures like recreation facilities.
8.To create a sense of belongingness among employees and to retain them. Hence, fringe benefits are called golden hand-cuffs.
9.To meet requirements of various legislations relating to fringe benefits.
Need for Extending Benefits to Employees
(i)Rising prices and cost of living has brought about incessant demand for provision of extra benefit to the employees.
(ii)Employers too have found that fringe benefits present attractive areas of negotiation when large wage and salary increases are not feasible.
(iii)As organizations have developed ore elaborate fringe benefits programs for their employees, greater pressure has been placed upon competing organizations to match these benefits in order to attract and keep employees.
(iv)Recognition that fringe benefits are non-taxable rewards has been major stimulus to their expansion.
(v)Rapid industrialization, increasingly heavy urbanization and the growth of a capitalistic economy have made it difficult for most employees to protect themselves against the adverse impact of these developments. Since it was workers who are responsible for production, it was held that employers should accept responsibility for meeting some of the needs of their employees. As a result, some benefits-and-services programs were adopted by employers
(vi)The growing volume of labor legislation, particularly social security legislation, made it imperative for employers to share equally with their employees the cost of old age, survivor and disability benefits.
(vii)The growth and strength of trade unions has substantially influenced the growth of company benefits and services.
(viii)Labor scarcity and competition for qualified personnel has led to the initiation, evolution and implementation of a number of compensation plans.
(ix)The management has increasingly realized its responsibility towards its employees and has come to the conclusion that the benefits of increase in productivity resulting from increasing industrialization should go, at least partly, to the employees who are responsible for it, so that they may be protected against the insecurity arising from unemployment, sickness, injury and old age. Company benefits-and-services programs are among some of the mechanisms which managers use to supply this security.
What are Flexible Benefits?
Flexible benefits allows allow employees to pick benefits that most their needs. The idea is to allow each employee to choose a benefit package that is individually tailored to his or her own needs and situation. It replaces the traditional “one-benefit-plan-fits-all” programs that dominated organizations for more than 50 years.
The average organization provides fringe benefits worth approximately 40% of an employee’s salary. Traditional benefit programs were designed for the typical employees of the 1950s—- a male with wife and two children at home. Less than 10% of employees now fit this stereotype. While 25% of today’s employees are single, a third are part of two-income families with no children. As such these traditional programs don’t tend to meet the needs of today’s more diverse workforce. Flexible benefits, however, do meet these diverse needs. They can be uniquely tailored to reflect differences in employee needs based on age, marital status, spouses’ benefit status, number and age of dependents, and the like.
The three most popular type of benefit plans are modular plans, core-plus options, and flexible spending accounts. Modular plans are pre-designed packages of benefits, with each module put together to meet the needs of a specific group of employees. So a module designed for single employees with no dependents might include only essential benefits. Another, designed for single parents, might have additional life insurance, disability insurance, and expanded health coverage.
Core-plus plans consist of a core of essential benefits and a menu-like selection of other benefits options from which employees can select and add to the core. Typically, each employee is given “benefit credits,” which allow the “purchase” of additional benefits that uniquely meet his or her needs. Flexible spending plans allow employees to set aside up to the dollar amount offered in the plan to pay for particular services. It’s a convenient way, for example, for employees to pay for health-care and dental premiums. Flexible spending accounts can increase employee take-home pay because employees don’t have to pay taxes on the dollars they spend out of these accounts.
Linking Flexible Benefits and Expectancy Theory:
Giving all employees the same benefits assumed that all employees have the same needs. Of course we know that assumption is false. Thus, flexible benefits turn the benefit expenditure into a motivator.
Consistent with expectancy theory’s thesis that organizational rewards should be linked to each individual employees goals, flexible benefits individualized rewards by allowing each employ to choose the compensation package that best satisfies his or her current needs.
Flexible Benefits in Practice
Today almost all major Corporations in the United States offer Flexible benefits. And they are becoming a norm in other countries too. For instances a recent survey of 136 Canadian Organizations found that 93% have adopted flexible benefits or will in the near term. And a similar survey of 307 firms in the United Kingdom found that while only 16% have flexible benefits programs in place, another 60% are either in the process of implementing them or are seriously considering them.
In India and most countries of Asia with the exception of Japan Flexible benefits are not offered by employers for various reasons which may create personnel and trade union problems.. In India some flexible benefits are offered in a limited way to the top management personnel like Executive Directors, President, Vice President, General Manager etc., It may take a few more years to offer flexible benefits to employees in India and other Asian counties by the managements.
401k Compensation system
There are two main types of employer-sponsored retirement plans: defined benefit and defined contribution. A defined benefit plan, such as a traditional pension plan, sets the amount that the employer will pay to workers upon their retirement. In defined contribution plans, the plan sets the amount of the contributions that an employer makes, not the benefit it will pay at retirement. In 1978, section 401(k)of the Internal Revenue Code authorized a new kind of defined contribution plan that allows the employee to make pre-tax contributions to the plan.
In a 401(k) plan, the employer sets up a special savings and investment account with an investment company, a bank trust dept, or an insurance company. The employee agrees to put part of his or her salary into the plan through automatic deductions each pay period. This money is deducted before the employee’s paycheck is taxed, so that it remains untaxed until it is taken out of the plan, often years or even decades later.
Employers frequently match employee contributions up to a certain level, sometimes by as much as 100 percent, but are not required to do so. The money in the plan is invested into one or more funds provided in the plan according to choices made by the employee. The plans usually are intended to earn money over a very long period of time, which is much less risky than short-term investing..
Employees like 401(k) plans for several reasons. The tax deferral an obvious plus. Others popular features include the increased portability of this plan from one employer to another, the matching contributions, and the sense of control due to the ability to choose one’s own investments.
28th February 2009 From India, Coimbatore
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