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employee benefits

My Employer Now Offers Wellness Benefits As Part of Its Employee Benefits Package. But What Are They?

It’s no surprise that your company has started offering wellness benefits, since many employers are already offering these types of programs as part of an overall employee benefits package. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in 2015, 80% of organizations provided wellness resources and information, and 70% of organizations offered some type of wellness program to their employees. (Source: 2015 Employee Benefits, Society for Human Resource Management, 2015)

When it comes to running a business, wellness benefits are definitely a win-win for most employers. Not only do they potentially reduce health-care costs by promoting healthier living, but they may also boost employee productivity and morale. The types of wellness programs vary among employers, but they typically cover a variety of healthy living issues, such as:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Exercise/physical fitness
  • Weight loss
  • Nutritional education
  • Health screenings

More recent additions to the wellness benefits arena include fitness/activity tracking, credit for registering and participating in marathons/races, and company-sponsored seasonal weight-loss challenges.

For employees, wellness benefits not only can help them adopt and live a healthier lifestyle, but can also provide them with financial benefits. Currently, employers that offer wellness programs are allowed to offer incentives to employees of up to 30% of the cost of their health-care premium (up to 50% for smoking cessation). These incentives are usually in the form of premium discounts and/or cash rewards.

It’s important to note that with certain types of wellness incentives, such as cash bonuses or gift certificates, the value of the reward may be treated as taxable wages. As a result, it may be subject to payroll taxes.

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