Workplace benefits that are disappearing

If you’re getting one of these benefits, take advantage of it while you still can.

by. Emily Brandon

Even though the economy has improved significantly since the recession, some companies continue to cut benefits for employees. Over the past five years, employers have reduced a variety of benefits, educational assistance and perks, according to a Society for Human Resource Management member survey of 510 human resources professionals. Here’s a look at workplace benefits that are in decline:

Pensions. Less than a quarter (24 percent) of the employers SHRM surveyed continue to provide a traditional pension plan open to all employees. In contrast, 89 percent of the employers offer a 401(k) plan or similar type of retirement account, and most (74 percent) provide an employer contribution to the retirement account. “Fewer large employers provide a defined-benefit pension, shifting more of the responsibility for retirement to defined-contribution plans, which necessitates that employees be very active in the oversight and management of lifetime income,” says Shane Bartling, a retirement leader for Towers Watson in San Francisco.

Retiree health insurance. Fewer companies are providing retiree health care coverage to former employees, declining from a quarter in 2010 to 18 percent in 2014. “In the early 90s, the awareness of the cost of retiree health benefits began to hit the radar when they were put on the balance sheets of companies in accordance with financial accounting changes,” Bartling says. “Since then, that awareness has led to efforts to control the risk exposure and manage the cost of those programs.”

Long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance can help you cover costs associated with a chronic illness or disability, but fewer employers are offering this benefit. The proportion of employers providing long-term care insurance for employees has declined from 31 percent in 2010 to 24 percent in 2014. “The number of insurance companies providing long-term care has been dramatically reduced,” says Jeffrey Brown, a finance professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “If you are an employer looking to cut costs, and you hear that your long-term care insurance provider is getting out of the business, it is a natural focal point for asking, ‘Is this the time we should just get out?’ rather than going through the process of vetting another provider.” Employer-provided home insurance (3 percent) and automobile insurance (6 percent), while never common offerings, continue to decline in popularity. And the number of employers willing to give loans to employees for emergency or disaster assistance has declined from 18 percent in 2010 to 12 percent in 2014.

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