They’re not as sexy as onsite gyms and free lunches, and the term is a bit of a misnomer. It typically refers to insurance products (separate from health coverage) that workers can buy at lower group rates via payroll deductions. But it can also apply to benefits that are funded all or in part by employers. Voluntary benefits cover familiar things, like long-term disability care, and novel ones, like legal services, identity theft protection, financial counseling, and veterinary bills. Keep in mind that voluntary benefits are just one piece of a company’s benefits puzzle, and are no substitute for solid health coverage. And offering a new benefit without footing the bill might not come across as particularly generous. But employees appreciate getting insurance cheaper and more conveniently than they could on their own, and these benefits can provide peace of mind by filling coverage gaps and reducing out-of-pocket costs. (One increasingly popular benefit is hospital indemnity insurance, which pays the employee a certain amount for each day of a hospital stay.) Read on for a guide to getting started.
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