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3 Workplace Benefits That Are on the Decline

By Maurie Backman – Sep 11, 2018 at 11:03AM

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These helpful benefits have been increasingly phased out in recent years. Consider yourself warned.

Though we all want to snag as high a salary as possible at work, the benefits we receive from our employers are, in some ways, just as important. Unfortunately, new data from the Society for Human Resource Management tells us that certain benefits are on the decline. Here are three that may come to impact you.

1. Flexible spending accounts

Flexible spending accounts, or FSAs, allow workers to allocate pre-tax dollars to pay for medical expenses. In doing so, they slash their medical costs via the tax savings that come from funding their accounts. Currently, you can contribute up to $2,650 a year to an FSA, which means that if your effective tax rate is 25% and you spend down your entire balance, you'll save yourself $662.50.

Woman gesturing and staring at laptop screen with disgusted expression.


But apparently, a number of employers are phasing out FSAs. In 2015, 69% of employers offered these accounts to workers, but currently, only 63% do the same. Of course, FSAs aren't perfect -- namely because they require you to estimate your yearly medical costs well in advance and risk forfeiting money if your bills come in lower than expected and you're unable to deplete your account balance by the time your plan year ends. Still, they offer a substantial savings opportunity, and as such, they're not the sort of benefit employees want to give up.

2. On-site cafeterias

Larger companies often have on-site cafeterias where employees can buy food at a subsidized cost. Some corporate cafeterias even provide workers with meals for free. But these days, only 12% of employers run on-site cafeterias, down from 16% in 2017.

Losing out on fully or partially subsidized meals, however, can really hurt employees' budgets. That's because typical establishments charge a substantial markup on the food they serve, which means that if your company gets rid of its cafeteria, you're apt to start paying a lot more for prepared meals.

Imagine your go-to lunch is a multi-ingredient salad that costs $3 at your company cafeteria, and that you buy one every day. If that cafeteria closes and you're forced to buy that salad elsewhere, you might spend $8 on the same item. Over the course of a year, that could easily amount to an extra $1,250 for your favorite lunch. Ouch.

3. Housing and relocation packages

Currently, only 16% of employers offer housing and relocation packages to employees, down from 24% in 2016. Clearly, having to cover the cost of a move on your own is a far more expensive prospect than having your company pay for it. But to add insult to injury, recent changes to the tax code eliminated the moving expense deduction that workers could once claim for job-related relocations. This means that if you're planning to move for a job in the near future and your company won't subsidize it at all, you basically get nothing out of the deal -- other than the job opportunity in question, of course.

If your company is thinking of eliminating any of the aforementioned benefits, it pays to speak up and fight to keep them in place. Flexible spending accounts, on-site cafeterias, and housing and relocation packages offer a substantial amount of savings for workers, so don't be so quick to shrug your shoulders, sit back, and let them go.

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