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July 1, 2016 Amelia Wilcox

Required Employee Benefits: Don’t Just Meet Them, Exceed Them

Covering your employees with standard required benefits is one thing. But going above and beyond can strategically set your company apart. Here are 6 required benefits for full time employees that will keep your company compliant.

After you’ve nailed those down, you’ll get an additional 10 optional benefits that will make your company go above and beyond basic.


required employee benefits


6 Required Benefits for Full Time Employees


1. Social Security Taxes

Employers and employees are required to pay social security taxes at 6.2%. The medicare tax rate is currently 1.45% for employers and employees. These numbers are current as of June 2016.


2. Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment requirements are determined at the state level. This insurance assists workers who lose their job at no fault of their own.


3. Workers’ Compensation

When a worker is injured on the job, worker’s comp can help cover the cost of medical appointments, and wage loss due to inability to work.


required benefits for full time employees


4. Disability Insurance (some states)

In some states, employers are required to cover a portion of wage loss to employees following a non-work related injury or illness. At this point, those states are California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island


5. Leave Covered under FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act)

FMLA provides employees with job-secure leave for certain family-related situations. To qualify for leave under FMLA, an employee must work for a company that meets FMLA’s requirements.

These requirements include a certain number of employees in a given location, length of time of employment, and number of hours an employee has worked.


6. Additional Leave Time

There are other reasons employers must allow employees some time off without penalty. These include participation in jury duty and military reserve training.



10 Optional Employee Benefits To Set Your Company Apart


Just covering the basics may fulfill your obligations, but most employees will expect additional benefits to sweeten the deal, and make their lives a little easier.

For example, providing bereavement leave isn’t legally required, but many businesses consider it a customary benefit.

Here are some additional benefits that are not required, but very much appreciated by employees.

Related: Best Employee Perks and Benefits: Your Ultimate Masterlist


employee benefits required by law


Paid Holidays

Companies are not legally required to provide paid holidays, but most do. As reported by, Hewitt Associates found that 1% of U.S. companies provide fewer than 7 paid holidays per year, and 28% provide 10 paid holidays per year.

Those 7 holidays are typically these, though some companies offer additional float days to be used during other holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Forth of July
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving and the Friday after
  • Christmas


Other PTO (Vacation Days and Sick Leave)

The most common way for companies to provide vacation time is through employees accruing days off after putting in a certain number of work hours. The longer an employee sticks with the company, the more vacation days they accrue.

Sick days are usually a standard number of days, usually 6-8 per year.

Often, companies will combine vacation days and sick days into one benefit, and just consider it general personal time off. In other words, your company doesn’t much care if you’re out because you’re sick or because you’re on vacation — they’ll treat it the same come payroll time. And that means more flexibility for employees. 


Health Insurance

Covering some or all of employees’ health insurance premiums is a standard — yet not required — workplace benefit.

Additional bonus points for the employer if they also provide health coverage for their employee’s spouse and dependents as well.


Corporate Discounts

Everybody loves a discount! Especially one they get just for working for a great company.

Corporate discount companies negotiate with vendors to get deals on goods and services people use everyday. Typical discounts include:

  • Rental cars
  • Movie tickets
  • Cell phone plans
  • Gym memberships
  • Travel packages


In-Office Perks (Office Massage and Healthy Snacks)

Nothing beats the Monday blues like free and fun on-the-job perks. And some companies are swapping out donuts in the breakroom for a healthier option.

Fresh fruit and other healthy snacks are all the rage, as are in-office chair massage programs. 

Related: In Office Massage: Your First Steps to Happier Employees


employee benefits


Transit Passes or Parking Reimbursement

A salary only goes so far if much of it is eaten up by getting to and from work everyday.

When companies fix this pain point for their employees, they reduce any financial friction that comes with commuting.


Educational Reimbursement

It pays to have well-education, up-to-date workers on staff. That’s why many companies will cover the cost of career-enhancing degree or certificate programs. 

Another great employee benefit is the opportunity to attend industry conferences. It helps employees network, builds loyalty, and provides them with an opportunity to travel.


Flex Time

Though the typical 40-hour-Monday-through-Friday schedule is something we’ve gotten accustomed to, not every company is playing by those rules.

Some businesses are able to offer flexible work schedules where employees can set their own schedules, as long as they’re able to keep up with regular office communication. 

Other companies are doing away with hourly requirements at all — trusting that employees will get the job done, without anyone tracking their hours.


401(k) Plans

Helping employees save for retirement is another standard — though not legally required — benefit. A typical retirement match caps out at  4%—6% of an employee’s salary.



Typically reserved for upper level management with many years of service behind them, a sabbatical is the ultimate dream benefit.

Sabbaticals are typically a month or two of paid time off, in which employees are encouraged to travel, explore an educational interest, spend time with family, or just have a period of time to reflect and reassess life goals before coming back to work.

Academia is most likely to provide sabbaticals, though some innovative companies in the business sector offer them as well, particularly in high stress fields such as technology.


Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)