Fringe Benefits: Exploring the Perks Beyond Salary

fringe benefits

This article will explore the diverse landscape of fringe benefits and highlight their significance in today's competitive job market.

What are fringe benefits?

Fringe benefits, or perks or employee benefits, are non-wage compensations employers provide to their employees in addition to their regular salary or wages. These benefits enhance the employee experience and provide additional value beyond monetary compensation.

Employers offer fringe benefits in various forms, typically offered as part of an employee benefits package, including health and wellness programs, retirement savings plans, flexible work arrangements, paid time off, and other non-monetary perks to attract, retain, and motivate employees.

10 Most desired fringe benefits examples

Here are the benefits:

Health and wellness programs

Many employees value access to health and wellness programs their employers provide, such as medical, dental, and vision insurance, wellness initiatives, gym memberships, yoga classes, and employee assistance programs.

It may also include health and life insurance. These benefits can promote employee well-being, improve work-life balance, and enhance health and productivity.

Retirement savings plans

Retirement savings plans, such as 401(k) or pension plans, are highly desirable fringe benefits that provide employees with opportunities to save for their future retirement.

Employers may offer matching contributions or other incentives to encourage employees to participate in these plans and build long-term financial security.

Flexible working arrangements

Flexibility in work arrangements, such as remote work options, flexible hours, or compressed work weeks, is a popular fringe benefit that allows employees better control over their work-life balance. This can improve job satisfaction, reduce commuting time, and increase productivity.

Useful Reads: 

The 4-day work week schedule - An Implementation  Guide                                                    Building Engagement with Remote Employees: Tips and Strategies

Paid time off (PTO)

Paid Time off, including vacation days, sick leave, family and medical leave, and holidays, is a common fringe benefit that gives employees Time to rest, relax, and take care of personal or family matters. This benefit can promote work-life balance, reduce burnout, and increase employee engagement.

Employee development programs

Employee development programs, such as training, mentoring, and tuition reimbursement, are valued fringe benefits that invest in the professional growth and development of employees.

These programs can enhance employee skills, boost morale, and improve job satisfaction.

Family and parental leave

Family and parental leave benefits, including maternity, paternity, and adoption leave, are highly desired by employees who value work-life balance and family support.

These benefits can promote employee retention, gender equality, and positive work culture.

Employee assistance programs (EAPs)

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are fringe benefits that provide employees with confidential counselling and support services for personal or work-related issues. EAPs can help employees manage stress, improve mental health, and enhance overall well-being.

Useful Read: Stress Leave from work: Implications and Best Practices

Commuter Benefits

Commuter benefits, such as subsidized public transportation, parking, or commuter reimbursement accounts, are attractive fringe benefits that help employees save on commuting costs, reduce their carbon footprint, and improve work-life balance.

Employee recognition programs

Employee recognition programs, such as bonuses, awards, or peer recognition initiatives, are desirable fringe benefits that acknowledge and reward employees for their contributions. These programs can boost employee morale, motivation, and engagement.

Employee discounts and perks

Employee discounts and perks, such as discounted products or services, company-sponsored events, or exclusive memberships, are popular fringe benefits that offer additional value to employees. These perks can enhance employee loyalty, satisfaction, and company culture.

Useful Read: Types of Benefits for Employees: A Complete Guide

The importance of fringe benefits in employee compensation

Here are the reasons why it's important to give fringe benefits:

Helps in recruitment: attracting best talent

  • Competitive Advantage: Offering attractive fringe benefits can give an organization a competitive edge in the job market, making it more appealing to top employees seeking comprehensive compensation packages.

  • Talent Acquisition: Organizations that offer appealing fringe benefits are more likely to attract highly skilled and qualified candidates, increasing the pool of potential candidates for open positions.

  • Employer of Choice: A robust fringe benefits package can position an organization as an employer of choice, making it a preferred employer for top talent and increasing the likelihood of attracting and retaining the best employees in the industry.

Increases employee engagement and motivation: resulting in greater productivity

  • Job Satisfaction: Fringe benefits such as flexible work arrangements, employee recognition programs, and wellness initiatives can enhance job satisfaction, leading to increased engagement and motivation among employees.

  • Loyalty and Commitment: Employees who feel valued and supported through fringe benefits are likelier to be loyal and committed to the organization, resulting in higher engagement and motivation to perform well in their roles.

  • Productivity and Performance: Engaged and motivated employees are more likely to be productive and perform at their best, resulting in higher productivity levels, improved performance, better business outcomes, and other workplace benefits.

Useful Read: 6 Metrics to Measure Employee Engagement: The Employers Guide

Supports employee growth and development: Enhancing career growth

  • Professional Development: Fringe benefits such as employee development programs, tuition reimbursement, and mentoring opportunities can support employees' growth and development, helping them acquire new skills and advance their careers.

  • Talent Retention: Offering opportunities for growth and development through fringe benefits can help retain top talent by providing a clear path for career advancement and showing employees that the organization values their growth and development.

  • Succession Planning: Fringe benefits that support employee growth and development can also contribute to succession planning efforts by grooming employees for leadership roles and ensuring a pipeline of skilled and qualified employees for future leadership positions.

What are fringe benefits in payroll ?

In the context of payroll, fringe benefits are considered indirect compensation for employees. They are not directly added to an employee's paycheck but hold value nonetheless.

Here's a breakdown of how fringe benefits are handled in payroll:

  • Tracking and Recording: The employer tracks the cost of providing fringe benefits for each employee. This cost might be a fixed monthly premium (like health insurance) or a variable amount based on employee usage (like educational assistance).

  • Tax Implications: Many fringe benefits are taxable to the employee. The payroll department calculates and withholds any applicable income taxes and payroll taxes from the employee's paycheck based on the value of the benefit they receive. For example, health insurance premiums paid by the employer are typically subject to income tax for the employee.

  • Reporting: The total cost of fringe benefits is reported by the employer on various tax forms, such as the W-2 form provided to each employee and tax filings submitted to the government.

Here's an important distinction to remember:

  • Salary vs. Fringe Benefits: An employee's salary is the gross amount of money paid before taxes and deductions. Fringe benefits are not included in the salary figure.

Impact on Payroll:

While not directly impacting the net pay employees receive, fringe benefits do add to the overall cost of employment for the employer. Payroll departments factor in the cost of benefits when calculating payroll taxes the employer owes.

How to calculate fringe benefits

There isn't a one-size-fits-all formula to calculate the total value of fringe benefits an employee receives due to the variety of benefits offered and their structures. However, you can calculate the fringe benefit rate as a percentage of an employee's salary to understand the additional compensation they receive beyond their base pay.

Here's how to calculate the fringe benefit rate:

Gather Information: You'll need the following information for the employee:

  • Annual salary (gross pay before taxes and deductions)
  • Cost of all fringe benefits offered by the company throughout the year

Cost of Fringe Benefits: This may include:
  • Employer contributions to health insurance premiums
  • Employer contributions to retirement savings plans (like 401(k) matching)
  • Cost of paid time off (sick leave, vacation days, etc.) - Calculated by multiplying the employee's daily rate by the number of paid time off days
  • Premiums for life insurance or disability insurance (if employer-paid)
  • Company contribution to childcare reimbursement programs
  • Cost of wellness programs offered by the company (gym memberships, health screenings)
  • Any other benefit costs borne by the employer

Formula: Fringe Benefit Rate = (Total Cost of Fringe Benefits / Annual Salary) x 100

Example:

An employee makes an annual salary of $75,000.
  • The company pays $12,000 annually towards the employee's health insurance premium.
  • The company matches 5% of the employee's contribution to their 401(k) retirement plan, totaling $3,750 per year.
  • The company provides 15 paid time off days per year. Assuming an average daily rate of $200 (before taxes and deductions), the cost of paid time off is $200/day * 15 days = $3,000.

Total Cost of Fringe Benefits = $12,000 (health insurance) + $3,750 (401(k) match) + $3,000 (paid time off) = $18,750

Fringe Benefit Rate = ($18,750 / $75,000) x 100 = 25%

In this example, the employee receives an additional 25% of their salary in the form of fringe benefits.

Additional Points:

  • This is a simplified example, and the actual calculation may involve additional factors depending on the specific benefits offered.

  • Some resources suggest including employer-paid payroll taxes (Social Security, Medicare) in the fringe benefit calculation. However, this can vary depending on accounting practices.

By calculating the fringe benefit rate, HR managers and employers can assess the total cost of employee compensation and benchmark their benefits package against industry standards.

How to design effective fringe benefit programs

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Designing an effective fringe benefits program requires careful planning and consideration of the needs and expectations of employees. Here are some key steps to designing an effective fringe benefits program:

Step 1. Conduct employee needs assessment

Begin by understanding the needs and preferences of your employees through surveys, focus groups, or individual meetings. This will help you identify the fringe benefits most relevant and appealing to your workforce.

Step 2. Define program objectives

Clearly define the objectives of your fringe benefits program. Are you aiming to attract top talent, improve employee engagement, support employee well-being, or enhance retention?

Clear objectives will guide your decision-making in designing a unique fringe benefits program that aligns with your organizational goals.

Step 3. Research available options

Conduct thorough research on the various types of fringe benefits available in the market, and assess their relevance and feasibility for your organization.

Common fringe benefits include health insurance, retirement plans, flexible work arrangements, wellness programs, and employee recognition initiatives.

Step 4. Consider budget and cost

Evaluate the budget and costs associated with each fringe benefit option. Determine what is financially feasible for your organization, and prioritize the benefits that will provide the most value to your employees within your budget constraints.

Step 5. Customize for employee segments

Consider your employees' diverse needs and preferences, and customize your fringe and other benefits and program to cater to different employee segments.

For example, consider offering flexible work arrangements for employees with caregiving responsibilities or providing wellness programs catering to your workforce's unique health needs.

Step 6. Communicate clearly

Communicate the details of your fringe benefits program to employees, including eligibility criteria, enrollment processes, and any changes or updates.

Provide regular reminders and educational materials to ensure employees fully understand the value and usage of the benefits offered.

Step 7. Evaluate and adjust

Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of your fringe benefits program through employee feedback, utilization data, and benchmarking against industry standards.

Make adjustments as needed to ensure that the program remains relevant, effective, and aligned with the evolving needs of your employees and organization.

A well-designed fringe benefits program can help attract and retain top talent, improve employee engagement and well-being, and contribute to the overall success of an organization.

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Tax implications of fringe benefits for employers and employees in the UK

Are Fringe Benefits Taxable? Here are some key considerations regarding the tax implications of fringe benefits:

For employers

  • National Insurance Contributions (NICs): Employers are generally required to pay NICs on the value of most fringe benefits provided to their employees unless the benefit is specifically exempt from NICs.

  • PAYE and Reporting Obligations: Employers are also typically required to operate Pay As You Earn (PAYE) on the value of taxable fringe benefits and report these benefits to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on the employee's P11D form.

  • Employer's Class 1A NICs: Employers may also be liable to pay Class 1A NICs on the value of taxable fringe benefits provided to their employees. Class 1A NICs are generally calculated at 13.8% and are payable by the employer.

  • Exemptions and Reliefs: Some fringe benefits may be exempt from NICs and PAYE, such as certain business-related expenses, company pension contributions, and certain small-scale employee benefits.

For employees

  • Income Tax: Employees may be liable to pay tax on the value of taxable fringe benefits unless the benefit is specifically exempt from income tax.

  • Reporting Obligations: Employees are typically required to report the value of taxable fringe benefits on their Self-Assessment tax return and pay any additional income tax due on these benefits.

  • Taxable Value of Fringe Benefits: The taxable value of fringe benefits is generally calculated as the cash equivalent of the benefit, which is the cost to the employer of providing the benefit minus any amount paid by the employee towards the benefit.

  • Exemptions and Reliefs: Some fringe benefits may be exempt from income tax, such as certain business-related expenses, work-related training, and low-value employee benefits.

Related: Mastering Expense Reports: An Insider's Guide

Employers and employees must be aware of fringe benefits tax and comply with relevant tax laws and regulations.

Conclusion

Fringe benefits are an important component of a comprehensive employee rewards program, allowing employers to provide non-cash rewards to employees that can help attract and retain top talent.

Employers need to understand the tax implications of fringe benefits to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations in the UK. Employers offering fringe benefits should also regularly evaluate their programs to ensure they meet the evolving needs of their employees and organization.

By understanding the importance of a well-designed fringe benefits program, employers can ensure they remain competitive in today's job market. 

HRM
Carin Vreede

Written by:

Carin Vreede

With years of experience in the HR field, Carin has a lot of experience with HR processes. As a content marketer, she translates this knowledge into engaging and informative content that helps companies optimize their HR processes and motivate and develop their employees.

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