New Job, New Benefits – What You Need to Know

Now that you’ve gotten the job, it is important to fill out the paperwork and sign up for benefits.

Now that you’ve gotten the job, it is important to fill out the paperwork and sign up for benefits.  Understanding what type of benefits your employer offers and what they mean is important when deciding which benefits to participate in.  Each company is different and depending on their size or company set-up, there will be differences in how they offer benefits.

Many companies require that you work a full-time schedule in order to be eligible for those benefits. Full-time can be considered anything from 30 – 40 hours and vary from company to company.

Common benefits you can expect to see include Health insurance, Disability insurance, Life insurance, Paid Time Off (PTO), Retirement Plans, Tuition Reimbursement, and professional development.

Health Insurance

The most common type of employee benefit is health insurance. Companies and organizations offer health insurance for their employees. The health insurance provider, the details of the policy and the amount of coverage are usually decided upon by the company. Dental and Vision insurance is not usually offered as a part of standard health insurance plans but most companies offer them as optional additions.

Health insurance usually covers doctor visits, prescription medications and trips to the emergency room.

Dental and Vision plans are what covers going to the dentist or getting your eyes checked for glasses.

Included in many health insurance plans are Health Spending Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending accounts (FSA).  Health Spending Accounts are a way to help you save right from your check to help you pay for qualified medical expenses like doctor visit co-pays or prescriptions.  Flexible Spending Accounts can also help pay for co-pays and prescriptions, but they also allow you to purchase other items such as over the counter medicine, crutches, and other items.


Most employers offer some form of disability insurance, both short-term and long-term. Short-term disability insurance is intended to be used if you have an injury or illness that keeps you from working for anywhere from six weeks to six months.   During the time of your recovery time, you will still receive a paycheck although at only a percentage of your typical paycheck. Long-term disability insurance works the very same way except it is a plan that covers injuries and illnesses that keep you out of work for six or more months.

Paid Time Off

Paid Time Off (PTO) refers to days or weeks when you can take time away from work while still being paid your usual salary. Typically, you earn a certain amount of PTO – or vacation days – for every day or week that you work. Some employers also offer Sick time which is similar to PTO but is additional time that can be used for doctor’s appointments or when you’re feeling ill.

Retirement Benefits

Many employers offer 401(k) plans. A 401k plan is a type of retirement account that you can put money into from your paycheck.  In some companies, they business will match the employees contribution their 401k.  And, your 401k contribution is tax-free until you take the money out of the account.  Each company will have it’s own rules as to when you can start your fund, how much you can contribute, and how much they match so be sure to consult with the human resources team to get the details.  You can find more information about other types of retirement plans here.

Tuition Reimbursement

Many employers offer tuition reimbursement or tuition assistance.  This is an excellent option for those who are looking to go to college, complete a degree or acquire a degree in a new field. Additionally, some tuition reimbursement policies may help you to attend professional training courses, technical lectures, or take certification/licensing exams.

Childcare Benefits

Partnered with the Flexible Spending Account – many companies offer a special FSA account to help you budget and pay for childcare expenses.  Money is taken out of your check each week (you decide how much) and that money can be used only to pay a your childcare provider with it.  Some employers also offer childcare subsidies or even on-site childcare.

Open Enrollment 

When you are first hired on, all of these options may be available to you, however, once you sign up you may only be able to change your options once a year during open enrollment or when a “life-changing event” happens.  Life changing events are those things like having a new baby or getting married.  Open enrollment is generally done at the end of each year.  Your employer’s benefit specialist or human resources department will send you information on the dates you can make changes, add to, or waive any benefits you wish.

If you need help understanding the benefits your employer is offering, reach out to one of the Mary Rigg employment coaches or financial coaches 317-639-6106, they are here to help you.