Majority of Canadian employers offering non-insurance benefits

The majority (90 per cent) of Canadian employers now offer at least one non-insurance benefit such as paid time off, employee assistance programs or flexible working, according to a new survey by business research organization LIMRA Inc.

The survey found paid time off was by far the most popular non-insurance benefit for employers of all sizes to offer, with 85 per cent of small (less than 50 employees) and medium-sized employers (50 to 99 employees) offering it. Even more (91 per cent) large employers (100 or more employees) said they’re making it available.

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Employee assistance programs are also fairly common among employers of all sizes, with 72 per cent of large, 55 per cent of medium and 38 per cent of small employers making the programs available. Mental-health benefits were less popular, but still prevalent at companies of all sizes — 34 per cent of large, 30 per cent of medium and 24 per cent of small employers).

The survey also found employers were most likely to offer work-life balance benefits such as flexible working or compressed work-weeks, at 48 per cent, compared to 42 per cent of medium and 37 per cent of small employers. About a third (35 per cent) of large employers said they offer fitness, wellness or health-management benefits, compared to a quarter of medium employers and just 16 per cent of small employers.

It also found voluntary insurance benefits, where employees pay 100 per cent of the benefit premium, are gaining ground with Canadian employers — nearly one in seven (14 per cent) are offering them.

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This is due to cost, according to LIMRA. Almost a third of survey respondents said it’s becoming difficult to afford to pay for employee benefits. “For many employers, offering insurance benefits on a voluntary basis is the only way to expand their benefits portfolio while containing overall employee benefits costs,” it said.

Less than one in 10 employers with a benefits plan said they expected to offer a new benefit in the future. The most common benefits employers said they’re considering were vision care and critical illness insurance.