Health benefits are one part of compensation and benefits packages

Compensation and Benefits Packages Explained

A sizable salary is nice, but it isn’t everything. Don’t be distracted by nice wages. You should also be considering what benefits a company will provide for you. How broad is the health care, and what services do they offer? And what about a 401k? If you’re wondering how to ask about a compensation and benefits package—or what to expect from one at all—keep this in mind.

First of all, you need to have an idea of what benefits you will be receiving. Starting an interview with questions about the pay and the perks won’t leave a good impression on your employer. You want to show your interest in the company and the job, not what you can get out of it. Asking at the end of the interview or after you’ve received a formal job offer is a safer option.

Heath insurance is a given.

Your typical compensation and benefits package is going to include health care; the Affordable Care Act states that small businesses with more than fifty employees must extend health insurance to their employees and dependents. Unless you’re working for a mom-and-pop business, you won’t have to worry about that. Don’t assume you’ll he responsible for the entire cost of the plan, either. In most states, employers are required to pay for at least half of your health insurance premium.

When asking about health insurance, find out which pharmacies and practices are covered by the insurance network. Find out if you have to pay a deductible, how high your co-pay would be, or whether you have a co-pay at all. The base benefits package may not include a vision, dental, or disability plan, but they may be available for an additional fee.

Save for retirement with help from your employer.

While it isn’t mandatory for businesses to offer retirement plans, most businesses include one in their benefits package. A company may have a traditional 401(k), where tax-free contributions are taken from your salary. Your money won’t be taxed unless you dip into your savings early, and access to your savings is usually not available immediately after setting up your account. Most companies will match your contributions, up to no more than 6% of your salary. Roth 401(k)s are an alternative that you may be presented with. Contributions made to a Roth 401(k) are indeed taxed, but you aren’t penalized for withdrawing funds.

Remember the little things.

It doesn’t hurt to inquire about extra benefits of the job. Additional perks may include the ability to work remotely, company discounts on cell phone plans, or reimbursement for professional development workshops. Not all employers provide these frills, but you should definitely ask. When you’re choosing between two nearly identical offers, it’s these bonus benefits that can make the difference. 

Last Updated: April 09, 2015