A Little More Time: PTO Tops Benefit Offerings

January 2, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - In 1999 Paid time off was the most prevalent benefit offered by private employers to their workers, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

According to the new National Compensation Survey, in 1999, paid vacations were offered to 79% of employees, and paid holidays to 75%

Benefits Offered

In addition, the survey reveals that:

  • a little over half the employees in private industry participated in medical care plans,
  • 48% were offered retirement benefits
  • just over half were given paid sick leave and life insurance,
  • only 36% had short term disability insurance, and
  • only a quarter had long-term disability insurance sponsored by their employers

Bonus Benefits

Other benefits frequently offered in private industry include:

  • non-production bonuses, offered to 42% of employees,
  • work-related educational assistance, available to 41%,
  • employee assistance programs and Section 125 cafeteria plans, both available to around one-third of employees, and
  • severance pay and job-related travel accident insurance, available to about one-fifth of employees

Of the three occupational groups for which data was by the BLS, professional, technical, and related employees had the greatest incidence of coverage for all of the major benefits. 

The difference was especially significant in the coverage for paid sick leave benefits.  While over 80% of professional, technical, and related employees were covered, just 59% of clerical and sales employees were, and just 38% of blue-collar workers

Goods and Services

Coverage for benefits also varied by industry. In goods producing industries,

  • some 69% of workers had access to medical benefits, and
  • just over 60% had access to an employer sponsored retirement plan,

While in service-producing industries

  • only 48% of workers were offered a health plan, and
  • only 44% were offered a retirement plan

Further, according to the BLS data, paid sick leave was much less prevalent in goods-producing industries, where 42% of workers were covered, than in service-producing industries, where 57% had coverage.

Short-term disability benefits, in contrast, were available to almost half of employees in goods-producing industries, while only about one-third of employees in service-producing industries had such coverage.