You made it! It’s the third round of interviews. A Director in front of you. looking at you like someone who’s chuffed with themselves for choosing the right meal from the menu. They ask you: “So when can you start?” As they anxiously drum their fingers on their desk. “Do you have any questions?”
Well, here are a few things you should ask your employer about your benefits package!
When people get a new job, usually they focus on their basic salary, the commissions… the end of year bonus scheme. These are all important but, you should always look at the full package:
- Sick pay and duration
- Parental leave such as: Paternity, Maternity and Adoption
- Employee discount schemes
- Health and life insurance
- Holiday entitlement
What we’re trying to say is, these are things you should ask your employer before you sign on the dotted line because these benefits and their accessibility shouldn’t be taken for granted. You should also know how the package can change during your time as an employee. And some of these changes bad or good are required by law. It’s worthwhile to keep abreast with changes and amendments as you could be suddenly left with no insurance coverage or basic sick pay. (A number usually based on the remuneration package of a junior!)
Statutory sick pay (SSP) is £96.35 per week, for up to 28 weeks. Your employer may pay more under their ‘occupational scheme’ however, each company differs and it’s important to know that it’s not mandatory to offer an ‘enhanced’ rate of sick pay. And if you look at what the average cost of your utility bills per month are according to Money Advice Service the average cost of gas and electricity is £94.35 per month. As a rough guide, in 2018 Santander found that the average monthly mortgage payment was £723.
By those numbers alone there’s no need to sit and work out that the current SSP just isn’t going to cover it. Not even a fraction of your monthly outgoings could be settled. And that’s also only if you’re eligible for SSP! (You can check here: https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay/eligibility to find out if you are)
If your employer does have enhanced sick pay then this is what you need to know:
- How much will you be paid each month?
[Do not assume 100% of your basic salary!]
- How long will they pay it?
[Some employers reduce their sick pay by 50% after 16 weeks, eventually getting to zero sick pay.]
- If you’re diagnosed with a critical illness such as cancer, will your employer keep paying your wage as you undergo treatment? [The answer, more often than not, is no.]
- Statutory paternity pay (SPP),
- Statutory Shared Parental pay (ShPP)
- Statutory maternity pay (SMP)
For mothers, SMP is paid at 90% of their average weekly earnings for the first six weeks. For the remaining 33 weeks, it’s paid at £151.97 per week or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is the lower.
For fathers, SPP is for a maximum of two weeks. It’s paid at £151.97 or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. If you want more details on SPP, visit: https://www.gov.uk/employers-paternity-pay-leave.
If you share parental leave (up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay) both the parents must work for the same company. The rate is £151.97 per week or 90% of average weekly earnings. As you can see the weekly rate doesn’t change but, how much you get is very different.
Check with your employer what their policies are and what support they have for new parents. For parents who are adopting, check with your employer what they offer and check on the Gov.uk website what you’re eligible for. As always, the devil is in the details.
Health and Life Insurances
Not all companies are made equal and as such not all companies can offer health and life insurances. There are benefits that are not legally mandated therefore can be removed at any time. We’ve heard of people not realising their employee benefits have changed with the removal of life insurance and have gone on to develop critical illnesses with no financial safety net at all. Your Protection Advisor will ask you some hard-hitting questions, our tip is to answer honestly and not avoid talking about death. Your family could depend on it.
If your company does offer Health and Life Insurances, then ask the following of them:
- Are pre-existing conditions covered? [Do not assume that any of your existing conditions will automatically be covered.]
- Where’s the letter of wishes and trustees document? [This ensures your money goes to the right people upon your death.]
- Are you covered from day 1 of employment or is there a waiting period? [Some policies have a period of minimum weeks/months worked.]
When reviewing your life insurance needs all advisors will ask what your current employer’s benefits are. There’s no point in duplicating policies and paying for something you don’t need to. However, the flip side is not having anything at all. Cameron and Mabel, (owners of McLean Financial Services) have opted to share their Protection Portfolio here.
A good Protection Advisor will always build a comprehensive portfolio that is suitable for you and your family. They should also review any and all portfolios you have in place on an annual basis.
If the last 20 months have shown us anything its that everything can change overnight! And you really cannot predict the future. Protect your future and the future of your loved ones.