The term benefits covers anything an employee receives besides cash wages. Some benefits, including family and medical leave, are required by federal or state law. These benefits do not cost the employer anything except the loss of work due to the employee’s absence.
Some benefits in a company can be optional, such as medical, dental, disability or life insurance, or employee pension plans. Employers that do not provide these benefits must follow certain federal rules that can be complex and technical. Most pension plans and health benefits are regulated under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The act requires employees to receive notice of the terms of any benefit plan including who is eligible, what the plan covers, what the plan costs, how payments are made and how and when changes to the plan will occur.