Employee benefits can add up to thousands of euros in salary per year
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Thanks to employee benefits, an employee may save thousands of euros a year. When, in the light of inflation figures, the purchasing power of consumers' net salary can be estimated to be cut by around €2,200 this year for an average-income wage earner, the importance of employee benefits is emphasized even more. According to Edenred Finlands's calculations, the monetary value an employee receives from employee benefits can be almost €3,000 per year on average.
Many employers offer their employees various employee benefits. Few, however, count the benefits they receive as part of their salary, even though in fact the benefits significantly increase overall earnings, and thus the purchasing power of Finns. Employee benefits, i.e. fringe benefits, are also often taken for granted, the existence of which is only noticed when you are unemployed or retire.
The most common employee benefit is the lunch benefit. Other benefits familiar to many are telephone benefit, car benefit, housing benefit, and garage benefit. An employee travel benefit and a bicycle benefit have been created to facilitate movement. Extended occupational health care is also a widely offered and used employee benefit. Taken together, the monetary value of employment benefits rises to an average of €2,827 per year.
"The change in the purchasing power of wage earners this year is estimated to be the weakest of the 21st century. If inflation is taken to be 7,6%, calculated by Statistics Finland in September, and earnings grow by an estimated 2,6%, purchasing power will decrease by almost 5 percent. It means about 2,200 euros per year for a middle-income wage earner. In this economic situation, salary supplements such as employee benefits are really meaningful," says Peter Hiltunen, CEO of Edenred Finland.
Quit smoking with the support of the employer or have a caregiver for the child at home
The employer can offer the employees sports and culture benefits with a payment card and increasingly with mobile payment devices. In the home care benefit, the employer pays a caregiver to take care of a sick child. Clothing paid for by the employer is also a fringe benefit, as are Christmas parties and other events paid for by the employer for its staff. Some employers also offer more special employee benefits, such as support for quitting smoking. In total, there are dozens of different benefits.
"Many people may not even think about how great the value of the benefits that are integral to the job actually is. Telephones, free coffees and employer-sponsored insurance are often benefits whose true value is not calculated. When the versatile additional benefits tailored by employers for their employees are added to the basic benefits, it is already a really significant salary supplement that has a big financial and employee-binding effect," says Hiltunen.
Lunches and commuting save almost €1,500 a year
How much of your own money can you save thanks to employee benefits? Here is a rough example (calculated using the tax-free values of 2022 employee benefits), which includes a few of the most common employee benefits:
The travel ticket is tax-free up to €3,400 per year. The price of the HSL ticket for the capital region in the AB zone is €65.30/month when purchased monthly. In Tampere, the corresponding two-zone ticket costs €56/month. The savings, therefore, depend on where you live, for example, but for a public transport ticket in the capital region it is €783.60 and in Tampere €672 per year.
With the lunch benefit, you can pay for lunches worth €11.30 in 2022. The employer pays 25% of it or €2.8. There are an average of 21 working days per month. The saving is €58.8/month or €705.6 per year.
Another option is for the employer to cover the entire price of the lunch for the employee. The total price for the month is added to the salary, and the employee only pays for it according to their tax percentage.
Sports and culture
The sports and culture benefit is tax-free for the user up to €400 per year. The annual saving is therefore €400. For example, gym membership prices vary, but roughly €400 covers almost all of the gym's annual costs. Alternatively, with the amount you get 36 movie tickets priced at €11 or, depending on the type of ticket, 40–80 percent of the National Opera's season ticket is covered.
The employer can also pay for dental care for the employees. Dental care is a tax-free benefit if it is customary and reasonable according to the Tax Administration's definition, and the entire staff has the opportunity to use the benefit. After Kela compensation, a dental check-up at a private dental clinic costs about €55, and a tooth filling costs about €80. €137 will be paid for the inspection and tooth filling.
The employer can also pay for, for example, a massage for the employees. It is a tax-free benefit if it is customary and reasonable according to the Tax Administration's definition, and the entire staff has the opportunity to use the benefit. One hour massage costs around €60. The amount to be paid for two massages is €120.
Let's assume that the monthly subscription fee is €36.90/month. In a year, this makes €442.80. The telephone benefit deducted from the employee's salary is currently €20/month, i.e. €240 per year. The employee saves €202.80 compared to paying the phone costs themselves.
According to Statistics Finland, a Finn visits a doctor 2.4 times a year on average. So let's assume that there are two doctor visits a year. Visits to the health center most often cost €20.90. If the visit is urgent and it is not possible to get an emergency appointment, you must contact a private doctor. According to the example found on Kela's website, the price of a private doctor's appointment is estimated at 65 e (a visit of less than 20 minutes), of which the Kela reimbursement is €13.50. €51.50 remains to be paid.
On top of this amount, there will be a service fee of around €24. The amount to be paid to the employee therefore accrues to about €75/doctor's visit. If there are two visits a year, the amount is €150. The calculation does not include possible laboratory tests or other costs. Occupational health care is free for the employee.
Statutory occupational accident insurance insures the employee against accidents and occupational diseases. If desired, the employer can extend the work accident insurance to also cover remote work breaks and meals, as well as free time. The price of private accident insurance depends on e.g. age and place of residence and possible discounts. In this calculation, the price of accident insurance has been calculated by comparing the prices of different insurance companies at 10.8 €/month, or 130 € per year.
Let's assume that the employer pays for two workplace parties per year for the staff. The price of the small Christmas lunch is estimated at €50/person, and the combined price of the summer event meal and the program is €100/person. In this way, the savings from this refreshment would be 150 euros per year.
If you drink two cups of coffee a day at work, the savings is €4/month, or €48 per year. The amount has been calculated on the assumption that one 500 gram coffee package (price €6) gives you 65 cups of coffee.
The total amount of the above-mentioned employee benefits will be 2827 euros per year. Possible intangible benefits, such as remote work, flexible working hours and training, are not included
Work tools provided by the employer
In terms of calculation, we can also think that the work tools offered by employers are goods similar to benefits. If the employer acquires a computer worth €1,300, a phone worth €800, or work clothes worth €400 for the employee's use, the employee saves because the purchase price does not come out of the employee's pocket. Savings can also be made if, for example, the phone and computer can also be used during free time.
An example calculation of the monetary value of benefits per year
- Employee travel ticket €783.60
- Lunch benefit €705.60
- Sports and culture €400
- Dental care (checkup and filling) €137
- Massage (2 times) €120
- Phone subscription €202.80
- Doctors (twice/year) €150
- Accident insurance €130
- Parties and gifts €150
- Coffee (2 cups/day) €48
- TOTAL: €2827
+ Work tools provided by the employer, of which, for example, a telephone and computer can be used even in free time approx. €500–2000.
An employee benefit is a more affordable way to reward than a salary increase
Providing employee benefits is a more advantageous way for the employer to encourage and reward employees than a salary increase of the same amount. You don't have to pay extra for employee benefits. For the employee, the benefits are either taxable or tax-free income, depending on the benefit. For example, the value added to the salary of a mobile phone paid by an employer for an employee is €20 per month. It also covers the phone and phone bills for leisure time use.
A limit of tax exemption has been defined for some employee benefits. For example, the care service for a sick child is tax-free when this home care benefit is paid for a maximum of four days. Voluntary sports and cultural activities are tax-free up to €400 per year.
Tax-free benefits include gifts worth less than one hundred euros, for example in summer and Christmas, coffee, and, for example, a staff discount on goods produced or sold by the employer.
"There are only winners here: the employee receives a monetary salary increase from the employeebenefits, and the employer has the opportunity to improve the company's image and engage employees. In the heated recruitment market, the company that offers better benefits will probably be chosen," concludes Hiltunen.