Exploring Creative Benefits Plan Offerings

Employers, you know it’s true: your benefits plan can make your company look more attractive, help you recruit and keep top talent, and improve the morale of your workforce. While there are standard benefit plan options such as group health coverage, life insurance, and retirement plans, there are other ways that can put you over the top. Here’s a look at some creative benefits plan offerings for your employees.

Creative Benefits: Ideas for Your Plan

Student Loan Repayment Assistance Plans

In 2019, the average student loan debt amount was $32,731 in the United States. A Student Loan Repayment Assistance (SLRA) plan is a very in demand benefit right now. Currently, employers can offer up to $5,250 in tax-free assistance – but only until December 31, 2025.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), only 8 percent of American companies offer this type of plan. This could really give you a leg up on one of your competitors.

Section 139 Disaster Relief Assistance

It seems as though there is always some form of natural disaster going on somewhere in the United States. Pandemics, ice storms, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes are a few of the hazards that we have faced in recent years while living on Earth.

With a section 139 disaster relief plan, the costs and amount of benefits is very flexible. You can offer assistance “to reimburse or pay reasonable and necessary personal, family, living, or funeral expenses incurred as a result of the qualified disaster.”  A “qualified disaster” is defined as a disaster resulting from terroristic or military action, a federally declared disaster, a disaster determined by the IRS to be of catastrophic nature, or a disaster determined by federal, state, or local government or agency.“

Dependent Care Assistance Plans

Child care can be very expensive for working parents. In fact, costs can range from $480 – $1,740 per month. 

With a Dependent Care Assistance Plan (DCAP, also called a Dependent Care FSA), working parents can put aside a maximum of $5,000 annually before taxes to cover child care expenses. . Keep in mind, this can also be used for non-child dependents, but can only be used for care provided while the parent is working or going to school. It is not available for overnight care or camps.

Individual Coverage HRA

You can offer a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) to cover the cost of non-group healthcare insurance for your employees. Individual Coverage HRAs (ICHRAs) were approved by Congress in 2019. ICHRAs allow beneficiaries to shop for health insurance on the open market, including exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act, and be reimbursed for part or all of their premium expenses.

Flexible Work Environment

A modern benefit that has seen a massive surge over the past year is teleworking. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the issue but it could become a long-term norm for many in the “new normal.” Cutting down on fuel costs and commuting times is seen by many as a significant perk. So long as productivity stays high, why not offer the ability for your team to stay comfy and enjoy the advantages of working from home, whether for a day or two per week or full-time?

Casual Dress

One of the easiest and most cost-effective (as in it costs zero) benefit options is a relaxed dress code at the office. For many businesses, traditional forms of professional attire – suit jackets, ties, dresses, and the like — are a relic of the past. You have the ability to set the rules. Consider offering a dress code including nice jeans or khakis, polo shirts and other knit tops, and relaxed shoes. Professional doesn’t have to mean stuffy.

Of course, a work-from-home environment typically means casual dress all the time.

Re-think your benefits plan. Creative benefits, with more options, could mean a happier, more productive workforce.

DataPath Administrative Services offers employee benefits administration, including FSAs, HRAs, HSAs, and more.

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