We recently talked about how employee benefit plans in Saskatchewan can help you win the talent war by attracting, recruiting, and retaining the best people. Today let’s take a deep dive into some of the features of a benefits plan that we explored in our last post.
Here are some of the most competitive types of services and coverage that you can include in your benefits plan to really stand out.
1. Employee Assistance Programs and employee benefit plans in Saskatchewan
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides confidential services and support programs to help an employee through a difficult time. The program offers a range of assistance services that cover a variety of different topics including challenges a person might be facing with work, family, finances, home, and more. Access to the EAP extends beyond the employee and anyone in their family can also benefit from the resources available through the program.
Some employee benefit plans in Saskatchewan put in place a long time ago never had an EAP added and because carriers charge an extra premium for this benefit. Today, some carriers include EAP’s at no extra cost as part of their extended health benefits. And even when there is a cost, EAP rates are still quite low for the value that these programs offer. We’ve heard feedback that any employee who visits their EAP resource website has been guaranteed to find something that would benefit them or their family. The services available through an EAP are extremely helpful, and best of all for the employee, they are free to use. It is a wonderful resource for employees and their families.
2. Critical Illness Coverage
Critical Illness coverage provides a tax-free lump sum payout to an employee in the event that they are diagnosed with a critical illness. If a carrier offers this type of coverage, they will provide a list of applicable critical illnesses that they cover, with cancer, stroke and heart attack being the most common. The full list of illnesses can be up to 30 different kinds of covered conditions. If a person is diagnosed with something from this list, they can apply for the benefit.
There are no parameters or limitations on how the payout needs to be spent, and because it is a tax-free lump sum payment, it makes this type of coverage particularly attractive to employees. However, it’s important for clients to be aware that most critical illness coverage in employee benefit plans in Saskatchewan would include a 24-month pre-existing condition clause.
3. Short- and Long-Term Disability
Clients will often ask if they need to include disability coverage in their employee benefits plan, especially if they have opted to include critical illness coverage. But there are actually some pretty big differences between the two. While critical illness coverage offers a payout to an employee if they are diagnosed with a critical illness, short- and long-term disability acts as an income replacement program. Disability insurance supplements a person’s income if they need to take time off work due to an illness or injury.
Short- and long-term disability coverage replaces a percentage of an employee’s gross earnings at roughly 2/3 of their earnings. Short-term disability type of coverage acts an alternative to Employment Insurance (EI) leave, which is covered by the Government of Canada. An employee cannot claim EI if they are on short- or long-term disability leave through their benefits plan. As a result, employers who have a short-term disability plan in place can apply for reduced EI premiums which would provide savings for both employer and employee.
Short-term disability leave covers the first 17 weeks that a person is off work and is paid out weekly. The wait period of long-term coverage is typically 17 weeks, and it is paid out monthly. There are different pay periods depending on the plan, but most long-term disability coverage in employee benefit plans in Saskatchewan will continue to pay out until a person reaches retirement eligibility at age 65.
Income replacement or disability is typically paid to the employee tax free if they’ve paid for the premiums via payroll deductions. However, it’s important to be aware that if a company opts to cover the premiums on the employee’s behalf, then the benefit the employee receives while on leave becomes taxable.
If you’re looking to design a competitive employee benefits plan in Saskatchewan that really stands out, you might want to consider including some of the features we’ve looked at here. Want to learn more? Get in touch with us today and let’s talk about how your employee benefits program can give your employees the very best.