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What Are Fringe Benefits & How Can You Get More?

Fringe bennies should be more than free coffee and snacks

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What are fringe benefits?

Fringe benefits are extra benefits, or perks, provided by an employer that supplement an employee’s salary.

While the term “fringe” might sound as though these benefits are uncommon, some fringe benefits are required by law to be offered to full-time employees. These benefits include social security tax, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, health insurance, and time off to perform civic duties. Other fringe benefits, that are often tax-exempt for your employer, are aimed at improving company culture or your work-life balance.

IRS Publication 15-B, the Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits, defines fringe benefits as “a form of pay for the performance of services.”

What are some examples of fringe benefits?

While standard fringe benefits used to include things like relocation assistance and a company car for use during business travel, today fringe benefits look a lot different.

Large tech companies like Google are famous for including perks like on-site massages into their benefits packages. Some even offer egg freezing through their healthcare plans (although fertility benefits like IVF coverage have become less fringe, more typical). Employer-sponsored wellness stipends, which are typically set dollar amounts given monthly to for things like gym memberships, personal training, fitness classes, etc., been growing in popularity as wellness-related perks are in higher demand.

Here are a few other examples of fringe benefits:

  • Dental and vision insurance

  • Stock options

  • Disability insurance

  • Commuter benefits / transportation reimbursement

  • Access to mental health counseling and support

  • Dependent care assistance

  • Paid time off (PTO) and sabbaticals

  • Paid holidays

  • Additional maternity and paternity support

  • The ability to work remotely

  • Flextime

  • Tuition reimbursement or reduction

  • Retirement planning services (401(k) plans, for example)

  • Life insurance

  • Employee discounts

  • Adoption assistance

  • De minimis benefits (low-value perks such as free coffee and office snacks)

  • Employer-sponsored learning budget geared towards encouraging employee learning and development

Read more:My Job Would Be Perfect If… I Had Flexibility at Work

Can you negotiate for more fringe benefits?

Yes, you can.

If you don’t receive any fringe benefits or believe you should be receiving more, it might be time to have a conversation with your employer. You can also negotiate for more fringe benefits when interviewing for a new role.

Tips for negotiating fringe benefits at your current job

  • Do your research. Find out exactly what the company already offers that you may not be taking advantage of. You can find this info in your new-hire package, the company handbook, or by talking to HR.

  • Check job search sites for positions like yours to see what kind of benefits are offered elsewhere. Check your employer’s competitors to see what they offer. It helps to come with examples of what similar companies are offering their employees.

  • Instead of asking for perks one at a time, make time for one single negotiation. This will give you leverage and room to actually negotiate.

Tips for negotiating fringe benefits in a new job

  • Timing is everything. You should be negotiating fringe benefits after you’ve received a job offer and know the salary they’re offering. Negotiate fringe benefits along with salary.

  • Fringe benefits are a great way to up your compensation package if the employer hasn’t met your salary requirements. This can be a great time to ask for flexible work hours , the ability to work from home, transportation reimbursement, or more stock options.

  • You may want to go into the conversation having stack-ranked the proposed benefits package in advance. You may have to budge on some.

Read more: How to Accept a Job Offer: When to Negotiate & What to Say

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