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Employment law

employee benefits

Most employers provide their employees with certain employee benefits in addition to the employee’s salary or hourly wage. The nature of these employee benefits varies from employer to employer—and sometimes varies among employees of a given employer. Private employers are generally not obligated to provide any such employee benefits—although employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees are required to provide health insurance or pay a penalty (known as the employer mandate). Some common employee benefits that may be provided (in whole or in part) by an employer include:

• health insurance (medical) (required for employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent or FTE employees)

• dental and vision insurance

• Flexible Spending Account (FSA)—a savings account that helps employees pay for items that typically are not covered by health insurance—such as out-of-pocket medical, child care, or other dependent care expenses—using pre-tax dollars.

• Health Savings Account (HSA)—often used with high-deductible insurance plans to offset some of the costs of the high deductible. Employees may contribute to their HSA with pre-tax dollars. HSAs are available to self-employed persons but FSAs are not.

• Employee Assistance Program (EAP)—a work-based intervention program designed to help employees, managers, and organizations meet life challenges and remain healthy, engaged, and productive. An EAP is generally a free, confidential, and professionally staffed service available to help employees resolve personal problems that may adversely impact their job performance, attendance, and conduct. Such personal problems may include emotional, alcohol, drug-related, family and relationship, and financial issues. The EAP can help by providing high-quality problem assessment, short-term counseling and referral to appropriate community treatment resources, and follow-up—but the cost of care by a community treatment resource may be the employee's responsibility.

• disability insurance

• life insurance

• long-term disability insurance

• short-term disability insurance

• retirement and investment accounts/plans—including 401k plans, pension plans, and thrift savings plans (for federal employees)—sometimes with employer-matching of employee contributions

• paid personal leave/paid time off (PTO) days for vacation, illness, and family care

• flexible work hours or alternative work schedules (AWS)

• work from home (WFH) options

• on-site childcare

• childcare subsidies

• paid maternity and paternity leave

• tuition reimbursement

• on-site fitness centers and subsidized gym memberships

• wellness programs

• employee recognition programs

• relocation assistance

• severance pay

• profit sharing

• use of company car

• payment of school loan debt

• additional skills training

• team bonding events

• on-site coffee, snacks, drinks, meals

In Texas, private employers are not required by state law to provide employee benefits beyond wages. However, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees are mandated to offer health insurance or face a penalty, which is a federal requirement. Other benefits such as dental, vision, disability, and life insurance; retirement accounts with possible employer matching; paid time off; flexible work schedules; and various wellness and assistance programs are discretionary and can vary widely between employers. Some benefits, like Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), can be contributed to with pre-tax dollars and are available to self-employed individuals, while Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are not. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) offer confidential support for personal issues that may affect work performance, but external treatment costs may fall to the employee. Texas does not have state-specific mandates for paid leave, childcare, or other perks, so these are offered at the employer's discretion. Employers may also offer additional benefits such as tuition reimbursement, fitness centers, recognition programs, and more to attract and retain employees.

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