Which Employee Benefits are Required?

Which Employee Benefits are Required

In an environment where there are more jobs than candidates, especially after 2020 when some 20 million jobs evaporated, businesses find themselves in practical bidding wars for quality employees. Employee benefits, then, is a hot topic. We are frequently asked which benefits are required by law, and which are value-added perks that set a company apart. It's important to be able to distinguish between those you are legally required to offer, and those you aren't.

Required benefits are those that a business is compelled to provide by the federal government. You can jazz them up in some ways - like providing some paid maternity or paternity leave along with FMLA - but at a basic level, all of your employees are entitled to these benefits:

1. Voting, jury, and military leave

Each of these types of leave are compulsory and have certain parameters that both you and your employees must abide by. Find out from your local government how much (if anything) you are compelled to pay your employees to offset their wages lost when serving in one of these capacities so that your back is covered.

2. Worker’s compensation

Having someone in HR who is familiar with work comp rules is essential, as it can get very complicated quickly. Even something as minor as a fall on work property can cause loss of time, injury, and potentially a lawsuit. Ensuring your employees know how to access work comp and know how to use it will save you time and make sure your desire to be compassionate and supportive in their time of injury.


This is your part of helping pay for your employees’ retirement benefits on a federal level. Extremely simple, mandatory, and often not really understood as the benefit it is, providing and understanding FICA is crucial.

4. Unemployment

Paying your unemployment taxes ensures that your employees can access these benefits when they’re terminated. This is part of owning a business that employs people - you look out for their well-being, in some cases even after they’ve separated from the company.

5. Short-term disability

Somewhat like work comp, short-term disability helps your employees deal with a catastrophic illness, injury, or surgery that has them out of the office for a short duration. While again this is compulsory where it’s available (not all states mandate this), consider it an investment. You want your best employees to be taken care of until they can come back.


These are unpaid, federally protected leave statuses for people who are:

• Suffering a catastrophic illness of themselves or a family member
• Having, adopting, or fostering a child
• Helping a service member prepare for deployment

7. Suffering domestic violence (VESSA)

These types of leave should be clearly available, and you should have a content expert on staff to help your employees utilize them. For an employee who has an illness or a sick family member but is afraid of losing their job because of it, FMLA can provide that peace of mind and time to take care of necessary home life situations. Understanding when to offer it to employees can also help you not get sued.

It's important to note that these benefits are obligatory, and not offering them or staying in compliance with their requirements can land a business in hot water. However....it's important to note that simply offering the obligatory benefits will likely not be enough to win a quality candidate when that candidate may be choosing between open positions with more than one company. It's the other stuff...the should-have and the nice-to-have benefits that set you apart - many of which don't cost anything to implement. Find out what your business can do differently to appeal to job seekers, and you'll stand a better chance of filling those open slots more quickly. 

Looking for ideas? Download our free ebook "Guide For Using Employee Benefits in Recruitment and Retention" by clicking here or on the image below. Don't hesitate to contact our Employee Benefits specialists with any questions or for extra guidance.


Guide for Using Employee Benefits in Recruitment and Retention


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