As employers seek to navigate the competitive waters of employee recruiting and retention, one tool receiving increased attention is the so-called voluntary employee benefit. Of course, most benefits are voluntary because no one is forcing employees to enroll in health insurance plans or take paid time off. But the use of the term typically refers to plans that offer some value to employees at little or even no cost to the employer. Sometimes these benefits allow workers to access services that are hard to evaluate on their own, and sometimes employers can obtain tax savings by providing the help.
Voluntary benefits may include accident insurance, long-term care coverage, disability protection, life insurance, and even insurance against specific illnesses, such as cancer. One such offering that is on the rise is legal plan coverage, offering employees access to a network of attorneys for specific covered legal needs for a fixed price.
In a typical legal plan scenario, the employee pays a modest monthly fee and has no out-of-pocket expenses for routine legal needs or pays for them on a discounted basis. Usually, the employer has no cost but talk to your Taylor Benefits Insurance consultant about your options.
The American Bar Association estimated that eighty percent of low-income people don’t get legal help when they need it because they can’t afford the fees. Another obstacle is just knowing how to find a lawyer who does what you need. Some everyday situations in which an employee can benefit from consulting an attorney include:
Companies that offer voluntary plans such as legal plans and prepaid legal services (as well as other optional services and insurance) may be looking for a competitive edge. Seventy-five percent of employers offering the benefits cite efforts to appeal to a multigenerational workforce, while sixty-seven percent are working to attract new employees and retain existing workers.
Many employees put a higher value on supplemental benefits and perks than the actual cash worth of the offerings, according to a survey conducted by benefits firm Zenefits. Seventy percent of those surveyed at small companies stated that “perks” are significant when considering job offers.
On the other hand, some consumer advocates paint these employee benefits as a waste of workers’ money (in most cases, the programs cost between $10 and $30 per month). If you take the midpoint cost of $20, that’s $240 annually for a service you will probably never use. Moreover, if you need an attorney often enough to make the cost worthwhile, you are likely to pay additional fees. So, critics of the plans suggest that you fund your emergency savings account instead of buying legal insurance. But, of course, paying in advance is more manageable than saving for many people, which may be a point in favor of legal service plans. Also, there is a built-in advantage for the consumer who gets a list of lawyers familiar with the issue they need help with when the need arises. That alone may bring the hoped-for goodwill to the employer sponsoring the program.
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