Sept. 13, 2021
Many employees don’t know that in addition to their regular pension, medical and dental benefits, their workplace may offer other financial benefits as well.
Of course, not everyone is so lucky — many Canadians are self-employed, work part-time or hourly jobs. But if you’re one of those with a full-time salaried job, it’s quite possible you’re missing out on benefits you’re not aware of.
Here’s how to make the most of these perks to set yourself up for financial security in the future.
Workplace financial benefits often come in the form of registered pension plans (RPPs), whether defined contribution or defined benefit; group RRSP or TFSA plans; or company stock plans if your employer is publicly traded, said Tracey Bissett, president of Toronto-based Bissett Financial Fitness Inc.
In both defined benefit and defined contribution plans, the employer and employee contribute. But in the latter, the employee takes on the risk of the investments, while in the former, they get a guaranteed payout upon retirement (the latter is much more popular these days).
Often, your employer will match a certain percentage of your own contributions to programs like group RRSPs or stock plans, said Bissett, so if you don’t take advantage of these plans while you’re employed there, you’re missing out on free money.
Even if you’re not sure how long you’ll be with the company, it’s always a good idea to opt in to any voluntary financial program, she said, as every dollar counts.
There are also other ways you can benefit financially from employer perks. Often your medical benefits will come with a health spending account that can be used on a wide variety of things, said Bissett.
Many companies offer discounts to their employees on their own products, or on products by other companies, such as technology and gym memberships.
And companies also often offer different kinds of insurance that could help you in the future, said Bissett, such as disability or critical illness insurance, which you buy through the employer.
When you arrive at a new job, you may not take the time to read your benefits package to find out exactly what’s available to you, but that’s a mistake, she said.
“The key is to ask,” said Bissett, as employers often don’t offer up this information otherwise.