Company bike, childcare or IT equipment: Employers can offer their employees salary extras
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The offer for the dream job is already on the table, but the salary negotiations are stalling. What now? Cancel the long-awaited job – or accept financial losses? Neither, says financial economist and career coach Susan J. Moldenhauer. She advises negotiating employee benefits. These are benefits that do not mean a direct salary increase, but can still be worth real money. Benefits can make a decisive contribution to motivation and loyalty to the company – a clear advantage for both parties.
The law stipulates that employers can distribute 50 euros per person per month to their workforce as a so-called "non-cash benefit" in the form of grants, subsidies or discounts on services or benefits in kind. However, there are also useful additional services that go beyond this regulation. Depending on the situation, the extra salary does not have to be fully taxed and must be covered by social security. In the best case, this leaves more money at your disposal at the end of the month. Which of these services is really worthwhile, explains financial economist Moldenhauer.
"The Deutschlandticket has replaced the classic job ticket in many places," says Moldenhauer. She advises negotiating the assumption of the ticket in addition to the salary. With a price of 49 euros, the Deutschlandticket is ideally suited as a "non-cash benefit", i.e. if the employer pays for the ticket in this way, it is exempt from tax and social security contributions, and there are no additional costs or tax disadvantages for employees. For those who prefer to cycle to work, Moldenhauer recommends another benefit: the company bike. If the e-bike or bicycle is subsidized by the employer in addition to the salary, taxation is waived. Private use must be contractually stipulated.
As part of workplace health promotion, employers can support their employees in living healthier lives. This can be done, for example, through the so-called "company fitness". Here, certain sports programs such as back exercises or yoga are promoted. To this end, employers enter into cooperations with sports providers. Prevention courses such as addiction counselling, stress management, nutritional counselling or non-smoking coaching can also be subsidised. Which measures may be funded is regulated in the Social Security Code. If these requirements are met, the non-cash benefit of up to 600 euros per year is exempt from tax and social security contributions.
Depending on the industry and position, the employer may provide IT equipment. This can include mobile phones, laptops and tablets, but also monitors or headphones. "You should clarify at an early stage whether the devices can also be used privately," advises Moldenhauer. To ensure that employees are on the safe side, employers can regulate the private use of IT equipment in a company agreement.
Further education and training
According to the legal regulation, employers only have to cover training and development costs if they require their employees to participate. This means that the courses must be clearly related to the current job and directly expand the qualifications of the employees. If, on the other hand, the initiative comes from the employees, employers are not obliged to cover the costs – but they can offer it as a possible benefit. "These can be further training or courses that increase one's own market value in the long term, but are not immediately necessary to improve employment," says Moldenhauer. For example, a language course or coaching training, although these skills are not necessarily needed in the current job. Depending on the situation, it makes sense to negotiate special leave for the period in question.
Moldenhauer advises young parents to a still rather unknown benefit, for whom childcare costs can be a high financial burden. Depending on where you live, childcare is not always free of charge. In 2018, Berlin was the first federal state to completely abolish fees for daycare or day care. In the federal states where parents have to pay for the care of children who are not of school age, employers can contribute to the costs. According to the Income Tax Act, no upper limit is defined for this. For example, the employer can decide to pay the entire childcare fee. It is important to note that the fees must be paid in addition to the salary. Complete financing and any subsidies are exempt from tax and social security contributions for employees, so there are no salary deductions.
Start-ups in particular sometimes offer their employees company shares instead of a higher salary. Here, however, Moldenhauer advises caution. "It is often impossible to estimate whether the business will really be profitable." The financial economist recommends accepting a company share only as part of an overall benefit package.
Four-day week with full wage compensation
The four-day week is currently being debated in many places. There are different approaches: For example, divide the original five working days into four, so that two hours more work is done each day. According to Moldenhauer, the better solution from the employee's point of view: a four-day week with full wage compensation. According to Moldenhauer, before employees propose such a model, they should first ask themselves: Will I be able to complete my workload in four days? "Then there's certainly nothing wrong with taking it into my negotiations," says Moldenhauer. Initial study results indicate that reducing working hours can reduce the risk of burnout and stress, while increasing productivity and satisfaction.
How do you negotiate employee benefits?
"I see benefits, benefits in kind or non-cash benefits as part of a salary package that is best negotiated directly when you join the company," says Moldenhauer. As a first step, she advises applicants to prepare well-founded. This also includes setting personal goals and dealing with one's own market value.
In order to conduct the negotiation confidently in the second step, Moldenhauer suggests: You set yourself three salary targets: a maximum, a minimum target and, in the middle, the alternative plus certain salary extras. Benefits can therefore serve as an adjusting screw in the negotiation. In this way, you create a room for negotiation within which you can move.