Employee Benefits - New Study Reveals What's Hot and Not in Workforce Perks



    TORONTO, Sept. 5 /CNW/ - As companies scramble to attract and retain
skilled workers in a market characterized by an aging workforce and increasing
labour shortages, they are becoming very creative in designing new employee
perks in order to compete.
    What are the most popular benefits? A new study, released today in
advance of National Payroll Week next week (September 8 - 12) and the first of
its kind in Canada, ranks all 39 categories of taxable employee benefits in
terms of the percentage of organizations offering them.
    Conducted by the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA), the study contains
some startling surprises. Yes, Canadians continue to place a high value on
financial protection, with group term life insurance (offered by 61% of
organizations) and disability benefits (42%) among the most popular perks.
    But also at the top of the list are tuition fees (42%) and professional
membership dues (39%). "What this says is that Canadian workers appreciate
professional development opportunities. They want to continue to learn and
grow on the job," says Richard Rousseau, Chairman of CPA.
    Car allowances (46%) are the second most popular benefit. "Drivers are
very aware of rising gas prices and insurance premiums, and a benefit that
offsets some of this pain is very attractive," Rousseau explains. "In the
future, we'll probably see transit passes being offered more and more as gas
prices continue upward and employees want to work for 'green' companies."
    Another interesting fact unearthed in the study is the relatively high
importance placed on counseling for employees (21%). "This probably reflects
two positive trends," says Patrick Culhane, CPA's President and CEO.
"Employers are recognizing the detrimental effects of a stressful work
environment and are taking steps to counter it. As well, people are more open
now to using these services because there seems to be less stigma associated
with mental health issues today."
    Employer-paid RRSP premiums (28%), which have replaced pension plans in
many workplaces, are a popular incentive. Stock options (8%), while still down
the list, are growing in popularity as publicly traded companies offer them
more broadly across the workforce as a way to reward employee performance and
gain buy-in to the business objectives.
    At the very bottom of the list are child care expenses (2% of companies
    reporting that they offer the benefit). Culhane says "this probably does
not mean that employees are uninterested in the benefit, but rather that it is
a high-cost item for employers."
    Over 2,100 payroll professionals across the country participated in the
research by completing an extensive online survey.
    More detailed information on the study will be released in the coming
weeks.

    About the CPA:

    Payroll professionals in 1.5 million organizations across Canada are
responsible for ensuring the timely and accurate payment of $700 billion in
wages, $220 billion in government remittances and $77 billion in health and
retirement premiums. They must also comply with more than 185 pieces of tax
and related legislation across Canada. The Canadian Payroll Association is the
national association that has been representing employer payroll interests in
Canada since 1978. National Payroll Week (September 8-12) recognizes the
accomplishments of payroll professionals, the payroll community and the CPA by
building greater awareness of the size and scope of payroll and its impact on
business, government and employees across Canada.

    
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                                                          % of Organizations
    Rank           Employment Benefits (Taxable)            Offering Benefit
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    1      Employer-paid group term life insurance premiums         61%
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    2      Automobile and motor vehicle allowances                  46%
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    3      Tuition fees                                             42%
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    4      Disability-related employment benefits                   42%
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    5      Professional membership dues                             39%
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    6      Provincial health care premiums (AB and BC)              34%
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    7      Medical expenses                                         33%
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    8      Gifts and awards                                         30%
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    9      Social events                                            30%
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    10     Registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) premiums       28%
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    11     Cellular phone service                                   26%
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    12     Parking                                                  23%
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    13     Counselling services                                     21%
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    14     Automobile standby charge and operating expense benefits 20%
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    15     Moving expenses and relocation benefits                  20%
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    16     Interest-free and low-interest loans                     20%
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    17     Discounts on merchandise and commissions on sales        20%
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    18     Uniforms and special clothing                            18%
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    19     Overtime meal allowance                                  17%
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    20     Wage-loss replacement or income maintenance non-group
            plan premiums                                           13%
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    21     Moving expenses - non-accountable over $650              12%
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    22     Recreational facilities and club dues                     9%
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    23     Security (stock) options                                  8%
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    24     Tool allowance                                            8%
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    25     Registered retirement savings plan (RRSP)
            administration fees                                      7%
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    26     Internet service (at home)                                7%
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    27     Scholarships and bursaries                                6%
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    28     RRSP premiums considered non-cash benefits                6%
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    29     Boarding and lodging                                      6%
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    30     Housing, rent-free or low-rent                            4%
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    31     Travel assistance in a prescribed zone                    4%
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    32     Tool reimbursement                                        4%
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    33     Municipal officer's expense allowance                     4%
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    34     Travel allowances to a part-time employee and other
            employees                                                4%
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    35     Educational allowances for children                       4%
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    36     Transit passes                                            3%
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    37     Spouse or common-law partner's travel expenses            3%
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    38     Transportation to and from the job                        3%
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    39     Child care expenses                                       2%
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For further information:

For further information: Robert Stephens or Rachel Sa, PR POST, (416)
777-0368, robert@prpost.ca or rachel@prpost.ca


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