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Work: Benefits Offered By Employers

Some Matters To Consider When Reviewing Benefits

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Before you look at the substance of an employer's benefits, consider whether they will apply to you. Look at the following:


Larger employers in particular may provide different benefits for different classifications of employees. For example, employees who work on the factory floor versus executives. 

What classification does the job fall into?

Full-time Or Part Time Employee

  • Most employers only offer benefits to employees they consider to be full-time employees. The definition of "full-time" varies from employer to employer. As a general matter, employees who work thirty (30) hours or more per week are full-time.
  • A minority of employers offer benefits to part-time employees. If part-time employees are eligible for benefits, the benefits are generally less than those offered to full-time employees.
  • It is not unusual for employers to offer different benefits for different classes of employees. For example, top executives may receive more benefits than people who work in a plant.

Probation Period

  • Does the employer impose a probation period? If so, how long? The probation period is the period of time between the date of hire and the date benefits become effective. For example, an employer offers health insurance to new employees, but not until 30, 60 or 90 days after the employee starts work. The 30, 60 or 90 day period is the "probation period."
  • A probation period gives you time to examine the employer's benefits and decide which ones you want to enroll in.
  • During a probation period you have to look elsewhere for health insuranceFor example, if you have continued health coverage under COBRA from your previous employer, you need to continue it until the new coverage starts at the end of the probation period.
  • A probation period doesn't count with respect to HIPAA, the federal law which limits an employer's right to impose a new pre-existing condition exclusion in a health insurance policy in certain circumstances. The date of hire becomes the enrollment date for purposes of determining whether you have been without creditable health insurance for more than 63 days. This becomes important if you are considering letting your previous health insurance lapse until the new employer's coverage starts -- which we do not recommend. (If money is an issue, see How To Deal With A Financial Crunch). If you nonetheless want to let your previous coverage lapse and are relying on HIPAA to eliminate a new pre-existing condition exclusion, contact the new employer's insurer to confirm that their practice is to consider the date of hire the important date with respect to a pre-existing condition exclusion -- not the end of the probation period.

How Much Will You Pay For A Particular Benefit?

  • There is no legal requirement that employers provide benefits or, if they do, the portion the employer pays, if any.
  • Most employers pay at least a portion or many employee benefits. The amount paid by the employer depends on many factors, including management philosophy, insurance company requirements, union contracts, geographical location, type of industry, and size of the pool of potential workers in your geographic area. The question remaining for you is how much you will be expected to pay for each benefit, if anything.

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