Most Canadian employers offer expansive and diverse insurance plans to their employees. However, not every insurance program is the same.
Some plans will offer different benefits and access to services than others. That is why, when beginning a new job, you should ask important questions about employee benefits that can help you determine if that plan and company are good fits for your needs.
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1. Which Family Members Will Be Able to Use My Health Insurance?
Many employees are concerned about more than just their own ability to access comprehensive health insurance. Most of them want to know if their immediate family will also be able to use their insurance plan. Another important consideration is the question of who counts as a family member.
Workers with close families, especially those who are the sole employed person in that family, want to ensure the wellbeing of everyone in their household. That is why it is essential to dig deep with your prospective employer about how many family members and which relationships may access the company’s health insurance plan if you choose to enroll in it.
2. Does the Health Insurance Plan Include Vision and Dental Coverage?
While the Canadian government insures essential healthcare needs like hospital and physician visits, Canadian Medicare does not cover all health-related issues.
Primarily, services that might be essential for some people, like optometrist visits, dentist visits, and access to prescription drugs, are all privatized. In most cases, a company will offer its employees health insurance plans for vision and dental coverage. However, those services are not always standard, making it critical to check with your potential employers about how expansive their insurance plans are.
3. Can I Select Between Different Levels of Coverage?
Not every employee will have the same health insurance needs, and some employers account for that by offering multiple levels of coverage that people can opt-in or out of based on their requirements.
Health insurance plans with more coverage and increased opportunities for doctor visits might cost more in out-of-pocket payments for employees. Those payments and expanded coverage options might be necessary for some people, while others might feel comfortable accepting a lower-level plan. Regardless of health needs, checking with the employer before officially taking a position to see if there is any room for flexibility could help you decide if you feel comfortable working there or not.
4. How Much Paid Time Off Does This Employer Permit?
Vacation time is an employer benefit that many people value greatly, and it is also a benefit that varies from company to company.
Different provinces have established minimum required periods of paid time off. In most parts of the country, that minimum is two weeks; it’s three weeks in Saskatchewan.
Beyond the minimum, a more generous employee benefits plan might provide more paid time away from work. Therefore, it is vital for employees who value flexibility in their schedules to check on a company’s paid time off plans before deciding whether or not to take a job.
In addition to vacation plans, be sure to check on a prospective employer’s leave policies, including sick leave, maternity and parental leave, personal leave, bereavement leave, leave for traditional Aboriginal practices, medical leave (including extended critical illness), and others.
5. How Much Will the Company Contribute to My Retirement Plan?
Since many people don’t want to spend their entire lives working, retirement plan options are significant for people deciding who they want their employer to be.
Many companies offer RRSP matching as a standard service for their employees, but how those companies handle matching will vary based on the employer.
Some companies might match your entire payment towards your retirement fund, so long as it’s a standard 4% contribution. Other employers might be more generous and match payments higher than 4%, while some might only offer a fraction of your RRSP contributions.
It is essential for employees invested in their retirement plans to check with their employer about how they do RRSP matching, if they do it at all.
6. Will I Be Able to Access an Employee Assistance Program?
Employee assistance programs are comprehensive services that offer psychological counselling and financial advice to employees and their families. These programs can be highly beneficial for employees struggling to balance work affairs with home responsibilities. However, these programs are not universal across companies.
In addition, the specific nature of employee assistance programs can vary between the companies that offer them. For example, most programs have 24/7 phone lines for aid in emergencies, but other companies might not provide these benefits in their programs.
Whether you feel like you would immediately use an employee assistance program or not, it can be important to ask if they are available before accepting a job. These emergency assistance tools are generally available to an employee’s family and could prove beneficial in times of personal hardship.
7. Is There a Waiting Period Before Accessing Insurance Benefits?
Of course, every employee wants to be able to access benefit plans the second they begin a new job. However, there is typically a standard waiting period before new workers can use their insurance.
Canadian employees previously enrolled in another company’s insurance plan typically have to wait around three to six months before they can access the benefits of a new one. However, that timeline might change depending on the employer and their specific plan. Additionally, some companies might compromise if you need immediate help their insurance can address.
When considering questions to ask about employee benefits before accepting a job, be sure to investigate a company’s stance on insurance waiting periods. Short or non-existent waiting periods could save you money on out-of-pocket medical expenses.
8. Are Any Educational or Career Advancement Options Available?
Some non-standard perks offered in insurance packages and employee benefit plans are educational and career advancement resources. Companies that offer these perks usually supply employees with additional money to obtain a degree or other necessary job certification.
Not every company will offer any finances or resources for employees looking to advance their educations, but the ones that do typically require them to stay with the company for a set amount of time after earning their degree. Just as attending university is an investment for an employee, a company funding that education is an investment in an employee.
These educational advancement opportunities could be vital for prospective employees looking to enhance their career potential. However, they will likely come with a caveat about being stuck at one job. Whether or not the pros outweigh the cons, employees considering accepting a new job could benefit from asking their potential employer about their specific advancement opportunities and conditions.
Why Asking Questions is Important
Insurance packages and employee benefits plans will likely cover the same general categories: healthcare, paid time off, education advancement plans, and other standard workplace wellbeing perks. However, these plans’ specific terms and conditions will vary significantly from employer to employer.
Some companies might offer expansive health insurance plans but poor employee benefits for RRSP matching. Others might have substantial worker perks like a comprehensive employee assistance program but not offer much regarding paid time off or vision coverage.
As an employee, your insurance and benefit needs might vary from those your potential new employer offers. If that is the case, you likely don’t want to be stuck working at a company that fails to meet your needs, making inquiries into employee benefits a necessity before you accept a job.
When to Ask Questions About Employee Benefits
Understanding which employee benefits are important to you is one thing, but asking questions about those benefits can be challenging for some hopeful employees, especially when your potential employer hasn’t yet offered you the job.
It might be a red flag for some employers if you begin asking questions about benefits like paid time off before they consider you a serious candidate for the position. However, if you make it to the next wave of interviews, it is likely a good sign that you can begin looking for information about specific benefits and insurance information.
Quick Guide to Small Business Employee Benefits
Do you have any more questions? Check out our guide to learn more about employee benefits.
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New employees will have many questions about employee benefits when applying to a new job. So when the time comes to consider group insurance plans, you can trust the team at Group Enroll to find the ideal package and affordable plan for your business.
Our team can give you a quote and list of quality benefits solutions with nothing more than your answer on a quick survey question or two.
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