In work-speak, benefits are essentially non-wage compensation that employers write into workers’ contracts on top of the salary or base pay. Benefits are a form of incentive and can make one offer more attractive than another, so they should be part of the things nurses like yourself consider when evaluating different jobs.
In this guide, we define and discuss briefly the various benefits commonly presented to potential employees during hiring. Think about which benefits are most important to you and carefully weigh your options. Negotiate wisely as well to get the most out of your job – it may take simply asking for your employer to grant you these benefits.
REMEMBER Only regular employees are eligible for benefits, unless otherwise stated by your employer.
A leave of absence is an authorized period of time that an employee is/can be away from work. There are various types of leaves depending on the circumstances, and a leave can either be paid or unpaid. Keep in mind that in any given year, there is a stipulated number of days allowed for each kind of leave, so it’s important to keep track of the allowed leaves you’ve used up.
Every company also has a system in place for filing leaves; check with your human resources department on what the company protocol is to avoid any issues. Some leaves may require several days’ or weeks’ advance notice.
In some cases, your company may also allow you to exchange your unused or remaining leaves for cash.
As the name implies, an employee may take a sick leave if they are unable to work due to personal illness or disease. “Sick leave” is interchangeably used with “personal leave” to also cover occasions in which the employee must take the role of career for a family member or the like. Sometimes, however, personal leave is used as a general, catch-all term for leaves that don’t necessarily fall under any other leave category. (When in doubt, do clarify this with your HR!)
Parental leaves — either paternity (father) or maternity (mother) – are paid time away from work after the birth [and/or adoption] of a child. Stillbirth or miscarriages are also covered. This type of leave is laid down by the law and paid for by the government. Parental leaves have been highly contentious over the years, with discussions about how many days are compassionately necessary and not just the bare minimum. In the Philippines, there is an expanded maternity leave of 105 paid days (with an option to extend 30 unpaid days). For stillbirths or miscarriages, mothers are entitled to 60 days with pay. Fathers are entitled to 7 paid days, and if married to the mother of the child, can be transferred 7 days from the mother’s allowed leaves.
NOTE Read up online on official sources for more details on parental leave. There are lots of particulars, so know your rights!
Paid vacation or annual
In the Philippines, the paid vacation leave or annual leave (also known as the SIL or service incentive leave) is made available to employees who have rendered 1 year of service at a single company. There are normally 5 vacation days with pay per year. The term “holiday leave” is synonymous with “paid vacation” or “annual” leave.
Bereavement leaves cover days after the passing of an employee’s family member during which an individual would need time to grieve or arrange funeral services among others. A company normally has specific guidelines on which family members are covered, so again check with your HR.
There are some more unique types of leaves like birthday leaves or wedding anniversary leaves. These are up to the discretion of your company’s management.
Health Insurance Coverage
When going over benefits, health insurance is one of the first things that employees look for. A health plan typically includes things like inpatient and outpatient services, prescription drugs, pregnancy & childbirth, dental services, as well as mental health services. In some cases, companies will allow you to extend your health insurance coverage to some members of your immediate family. Health insurance is common because it is really a great benefit to offer.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the term “hazard pay” has come to include health and medical professionals who are exposed to dangerous (or hazardous) working conditions. Previously, hazard pay was more common among those whose work entails some form of physical hardship, like in the cases of military service or construction. Even those outside of the medical field are considered frontliners, such as workers in the grocery, taxi drivers, volunteers, or just about anyone who performs essential tasks during this health crisis that exposes them more often to the highly contagious virus and puts them at higher risk to contract it.
Tuition Assistance or Reimbursement
This is a significant benefit for nurses who are continuing their education to go on and get their Masters or PhDs while they are working as full-time clinicians. Tuition assistance or reimbursement is less common here in the Philippines compared to the United States and elsewhere, but keep in mind that you can always negotiate a job offer.
A retirement plan is an excellent benefit for employees. It gives employees financial security sponsored by their company, normally computed using your salary at the time of retirement and the number of service years that you tendered under that company. The retirement plan is highly variable among employers or is sometimes carried out through a third-party insurance company.
A flexible schedule is perhaps one of the “underrated” employee benefits, but certainly still very attractive. Having autonomy over how your day or week will look is definitely motivation to choose one job over another, with many companies having strict “time in/time out” systems that count hours meticulously.
For nurses who are working mothers, childcare services are an invaluable employee benefit, because it reduces household costs and ensures that your children are being looked after and can easily be reached.
Professional development or upskilling programs
Nurses who have opportunities for professional development through upskilling programs at their place of work should definitely take advantage of this benefit. Attending seminars and conferences is a free and easy way to expand your resume. It is also a mutually beneficial way to improve your skills or to learn new ones, which will help the company deliver better quality services.
Recognition pay and performance bonus
These are variable benefits that your employer will reward you with in addition to your regular compensation. Being eligible to receive performance bonuses and recognition pay is normally when you have reached certain set targets or goals in a predetermined period of time.
Overtime pay is a great benefit; it discourages companies from taking advantage of employee’s schedules. In addition, work is more efficient and is of higher quality when employees are clear headed and well-rested, and nurses, of course, should be at their best when delivering care.
Transportation benefits might be in the form of a company car with subsidized gasoline, or commute allowance. Some companies might even offer special or reserved parking for employees, or a shuttle or car service. This type of benefit is especially beneficial for employees who might live far from their place of work.
Having a company-stipulated meal time is important, because it sets boundaries for employees. For those who work in especially toxic environments, particularly nurses, having this respite can be very sustaining and beneficial, wherein you cannot be called for minor tasks.
Some companies will have food at the workplace catered or will give a food allowance to subsidize the cost of meals. With a benefit like this, it would be wise to carefully weigh how much you normally spend on food and factor this in with the salary being offered.
Counseling, mental health services, and wellness programs
These are gradually becoming a popular benefits package, accompanying the growth of mental health awareness. More employers are making provisions to keep their employees from burning out by giving them the proper outlets to address work-related stress and challenges or personal problems that may affect work performance. Having these services available to you is a big plus; consider the high costs of resorting to a private/personal counselor.
Housing and relocation
Nurses who are highly sought-after may be offered jobs that are located far from their homes. In such cases, the employer of interest may offer dedicated company housing, or subsidize the entire cost of relocation, not just for the employee but for their entire family. Included in this benefits package is company may also offer assistance to look for
A company that values an encouraging work environment will give priority to creating opportunities for socialization among all employees in and out of their respective departments. These social events may come in the form of dinner parties, barbecues, out-of-town trips, and team building events and activities.
There are a variety of benefits being offered nowadays. Be critical and thorough when reviewing a contract proposal and think about what’s important to you. Consider all the factors and how much value you will really gain. And again, it is worth reiterating that negotiating your benefits package is definitely an option and do not settle for just anything.