Many people are completely unaware of what qualifies as a true benefit versus what is legally mandated. A true benefit is something you, as the employer, have chosen to provide for your employees. If it’s legally mandated, it is still a benefit to the employee but not given out of the goodness of your heart.

• Holidays: True benefit. Even if you choose to close on holidays, you are not required to pay employees for that day unless they work. Then you are only required to pay them their regular pay for time worked. There is no mandated form of holiday pay.

• Sick Leave: True benefit / legally mandated. Right now, offering any paid sick time is up to you. However, in 2015, it becomes legally mandated.

• Vacation: True benefit. You can choose when you want to start offering any paid vacation time and how much.

• Health Insurance: True benefit. You can choose if you want to make health insurance available but, if you have over 100 employees, you may pay a fine for not offering insurance. However, if you do offer insurance, you must maintain the same package for all levels of employees.

• Workers’ Compensation Insurance: Legally mandated. This covers employees involved in a work-related injury or illness.

Taking away benefits employees have previously received is easily done but you’ll take a big hit in employee loyalty and motivation. Therefore, think carefully before adding benefits to make sure you can continue to afford them. Making small changes to your benefits package each year helps reminds employees their benefits aren’t static.

About Your Columnist

CJ Westrick is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers all things human resources and managing people in the workplace. CJ Westrick, SPHR, has been in human resources (HR) management for over 20 years and has maintained her SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) national certification since 2002. She started HR Jungle, a human resources consulting firm, in 2006 to provide senior-level HR expertise to businesses without internal HR.

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