Employee Benefits in the US: What You Need to Know

Social Security and Medicare are considered legal benefits. It is important for companies to meet their employee benefit obligations and comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). While the U. S.

government recognizes several “national holidays,” no federal law requires employers to provide employees with time off during a holiday. However, it is common for employers to provide employees with paid time off to observe nationally and locally recognized holidays. Likewise, no federal law requires employers to provide employees with paid vacation. In practice, all employers offer employees paid holidays, which can range from one week a year for the first few years to three weeks or more for employees who have been working for a long time.

Employees who are represented by a union may receive more generous holidays. The FMLA requires employers with fifty (50) or more employees within seventy-five (7 miles) to provide covered employees with twelve (1) weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for the birth or placement of a child. Some state laws provide for maternity leave for employees who are not covered by the FMLA. In addition, several states grant workers a partial payment during parental leave and, in general, there seems to be a tendency to enact state laws on family leave.

Employees may be entitled to unpaid sick leave under the FMLA, which allows eligible employees to apply for up to twelve (1) weeks of unpaid medical leave in a 12-month period for a serious health condition that prevents them from performing the functions of their job. A serious health condition encompasses a variety of illnesses, although colds, headaches, and routine medical care aren't usually covered. While there is no national law that guarantees paid sick leave, several states, counties and cities require employers who do business within their limits to offer paid sick leave. Laws vary considerably in terms of details such as the definition of who is a covered employer, who qualifies to be an eligible employee, how much sick leave is available, how it is accumulated and when it can be taken advantage of.

A disabled employee may be entitled to unpaid leave under the FMLA, as mentioned above. In addition, state-administered workers' compensation insurance may provide for paid vacation. Finally, while the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) does not expressly provide for disability leave, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for eligible employees with disabilities, which could include leave, as long as doing so does not place an undue burden on the employer. Unless otherwise provided under a collective bargaining agreement or employment contract, employers are not required to provide employee pensions or any retirement benefits.

Many U. employers do offer some retirement benefits to their employees, increasingly in the form of a retirement savings plan, which is a defined contribution plan and is generally referred to as a “401k plan”, according to the applicable section of the Internal Revenue Code. Any other mandatory or normally provided benefits must be included in an employee's wages when calculating overtime pay. In general, the amount that the employer must include is the amount in which the fair market value of benefits is greater than the sum of what the employee paid for them, plus any amount that the law excludes.

Employers may also be required to provide employees with health insurance benefits in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement or a negotiated employment contract.

Cornelius Maxon
Cornelius Maxon

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