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Employee benefits explained

Front view of a company car in a driveway.You can get a lot more than just pay in return for your work. Find out about some of the other employment benefits you might receive.

Financial benefits

Your employer might offer a variety of financial benefits beyond your wage or salary. Examples include:

  • Matching any money that you pay into your pension
  • Payroll Giving, which lets you make donations to charity from your pay without paying tax
  • Shares in the company you are working at

Leave

Most full-time workers are entitled to 28 days' paid holiday each year, as well as other time off such as maternity leave. Anything beyond this is a benefit which you'll agree with your employer. The legally-required 28 days can include bank holidays, so you might get as few as 20 days' holiday that you can choose when to take. You'll normally need to agree these in advance with your manager, although some employers offer a fixed number of 'duvet days' which you can take at any time.

Because extra leave isn't a legal requirement, it might come with extra conditions. For example, you might have to have been with your employer for a certain length of time before you qualify for it.

You might also get other kinds of time off, such as 'compassionate leave' - time off if a close relative dies, which can be either paid or unpaid.

Salary sacrifice

There are some benefits that you have to pay for yourself. That might not sound like much of a benefit, but it can save you money overall because you will pay less in tax. This is called 'salary sacrifice', and it's used for things like childcare, paying for a company car or getting a better pension.

Salary sacrifice can have downsides beyond a smaller pay packet. It can affect your right to some state benefits in the future, because you won't be paying as much in national insurance, and your lower pay could make it more difficult to get a mortgage.

Transport loans

If you need to get public transport to or from work, your employer might offer you a loan to buy an annual season ticket. You'll repay the loan in monthly instalments, which will be taken out of your salary before you are paid. Because annual tickets are better value, you save money overall.

You might also be able to get a loan for other kinds of transport, such as to buy a bike to cycle to work.

Other perks

There are lots of other benefits that might go with a job. Common ones include:

  • A car provided by your employer - usually if your job requires you to drive a lot
  • Cheap or free meals at work
  • Cheap membership at nearby gyms
  • Free eye tests
  • Discounts at local shops

Getting employee benefits

All of these benefits work in a similar way to pay: they'll vary from place to place, and there's room for negotiation both when you're offered a job and when you have a review. If you are comparing jobs, remember to look at the wider benefits, not just the basic pay.

However, what you can negotiate will be limited. For example, discounts will depend on what your employer can agree with the business owners. Other benefits, like pension schemes, might be the same for all employees, so you won't be able to negotiate them individually - but you might be able to get a better deal for everyone through a union.

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