Employee Benefits Costing Employers More

June 28, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - More than three out of 10 (34%) employers say the percentage of salary reflecting costs of voluntary benefits is higher in 2004 than it was in 2003.

Even with the higher costs, employers are expanding their leave offerings for employees. Overall, the average number of paid vacation days for new employees is nine days; 14 days for employees with five years of service; 17 days for 10 years of service; and 19 days for 15 years of service , according to results from the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2004 Benefits Survey.

Employers who offer paid leave for new parents report an average of 25 days for paternity leave; 31 days for adoption leave; and 41 days for maternity leave.

Employees do not have to worry about using all of their vacation time at once either. Of companies that allow workers to roll over unused leave, 27% of organizations allow employees to roll over 21 or more days of leave annually. Further, one in five allow 11-20 days to be rolled over and 18% allow 6-10 days.

Telecommuting on a part-time basis is offered by 36% of respondents and telecommuting on a full-time basis is offered by 19%, both up 2% from last year. Compressed workweeks are offered by 34%, up 3% from last year.

Across organizational sizes, large organizations (500 or more employees) are more likely to offer most family-friendly benefits than medium (100 to 499 employees) or small (99 or fewer employees) organizations. Yet, small organizations (41%) are more likely to allow bringing a child to work in an emergency than medium (23%) or large (16%) organizations.

The survey of 459 HR professionals covers 217 benefits offered by employers and tracks trends over the past five years.