• Hannah Halpern

What Are the Different Types of PTO Benefits?

Updated: Aug 10




When you’re in the thick of job hunting, weighing salary options, locations, and responsibilities could be enough to make your head spin.


But don’t forget that you should also be considering the employee benefits you should and could receive from your potential employer.


Depending upon federal and local state laws, employers are required to offer certain employee benefits while other benefits are simply perks of the job.


Here you will learn all about the different employee benefits offered by businesses.


Table of Contents

Employee Benefits: Which Types Are Employers Required to Offer and Which Are Optional?


The term “employee benefits” covers a plethora of standards and incentives that employees can implement in their benefits programs.


These benefits are designed to help with …

  • Health insurance

  • Paid time off (PTO)

  • Retirement

… and much more.


But did you know that not every company is required to designate the same employee benefits as others? There are certain types of job benefits that are required by law to be included in an employee benefits program and there are other types of benefits companies offer because they wish to include them.


Benefits Required to Be Offered by Law


Many types of employee benefits are required by law as a standard across states and different industries as created by the U.S. Department of Labor.


Employee benefits required by law include:

  • Social Security and Medicare

  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance

  • Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay

  • Unemployment Compensation Contributions

  • Health Insurance

  • Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)

  • Disability Insurance

  • Retirement Savings

  • Life Insurance

Benefits Most Employers Offer


To help stay competitive, many other types of employee benefits are offered by some companies.


These benefits could include things like:

  • Wellness programs to encourage employees to seek gym memberships, therapists, mental health help, nutritionists, counselors, etc.

  • Tuition reimbursement and student loan repayment to help lessen financial burdens for employees while encouraging them to seek more degrees.

  • Relocation and housing options assist employees in moving due to work.

  • Commuter benefits offer tax-free transportation credits for employees to reduce costs on public transportation, rideshares, etc.

  • Telecommuting and work-from-home options allow more potential employees the opportunity to take a job or current employees to get work done outside of the office.


What Are the Different Types of Employee Benefits?


As both an employer and employee, you should be aware of the different types of employee benefits available.


Different benefits offered to employees are:

  • Required by federal or state laws

  • Considered a standard; or

  • Fringe benefits to help become more attractive and competitive


The Top 10 Types of Employee Benefits Offered by Businesses


#1: Health Insurance


Medical insurance is considered a standard employee benefit and is offered by most employers. Often, health insurance is bundled with dental and vision insurance, too.


For an employer to offer medical insurance, they must have over 50 full-time employees.

Things like a …

  • Health savings account (HSA)

  • Flexible spending account (FSA); or

  • Health reimbursement account (HRA)

… could also be included in medical insurance.

#2: Family and Medical Leave


Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) is designed for an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to …

  • Care for a new child

  • Care for a sick family member; or

  • To take care of a family-related emergency

… with no risks of losing their job. Employees can return to their same responsibilities while receiving the same pay and benefits, as long as they qualify.


To be eligible for FMLA, an employee must:

  • Have worked with the company for a minimum of 12 months.

  • Have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours before taking leave.

  • Work for an employer with 50+ employees.

  • Be taking leave to care for their spouse, child, or parent.

  • Not be an elected official at any level of government.


#3: Retirement Savings


Many employers offer a retirement savings plan as a part of their employee benefits package. This plan requires employees and/or employers to contribute to them during the duration of the employee’s work-life with the company for them to access upon retiring.


There are two common types of retirement savings — a pension and a 401(k).


A pension is funded and managed by the employer and guarantees the employee an income upon retirement. The employee does not get full access to the savings in a lump sum. Instead, they continue to receive a set amount (similar to receiving a paycheck) monthly for the rest of their life.


A 401(k) allows employees to contribute a percentage of their income to a savings plan. This is automatically taken from their paycheck and can be deducted from yearly taxes.


#4: Paid Time Off


Paid time off (PTO) is not required by law and might not be considered a standard for employers to offer, either. However, many companies do offer PTO to remain competitive among other employers and attractive to potential employees.


There are a variety of types of paid time off that employers can offer, but most commonly, PTO can be used for:

  • Holidays

  • Vacation days

  • Sick leave (might vary by state)

  • Personal time

  • Bereavement leave

  • Parental leave; or

  • Jury duty

PTO can be offered in three different ways:

  1. A set number of days given to employees per year

  2. Accrued time off that employees gain throughout the year; or

  3. Rollover allowances that can be rolled over from one year to the next

What if employees don’t use all of their allowed PTO within the year? If PTO doesn’t roll over, the time off and the money will go to waste.


To avoid this, Sorbet has made it possible for employers to offer cash payments to employees for unused PTO.


This is great news for both employers and employees! Why?

Unused PTO can be a liability for employers.


So offering an incentive for employees to cash out unused PTO allows employers to avoid that hassle while giving employees an incentive to use their PTO and avoid burnout.


#5: Sick Leave


An employee often uses their PTO benefit when they need to take leave if they’re sick. Many employees feel guilty about taking these days off, but employers often encourage their employees to take these days if they should need them — whether for illness or a slew of other reasons.


#6: Life Insurance


A majority of companies offer life insurance options to cover accidental death and/or dismemberment. The money is paid out to the named beneficiary in the event of an accident.


Almost everyone can benefit from carrying life insurance, but it is especially helpful to have if you have a family, spouse, or children.


It is highly recommended that the life insurance policy through your employer not be the only life insurance you carry. Consider supplementing with another life insurance plan on top of the one offered through your employee benefits.


#7: Health and Wellness Programs


Health and wellness programs are incentives for employees because they help lower costs of things associated with promoting and improving personal health and fitness. Everyone should participate in some form of self-care, but we know this could be much more difficult to do when you work a demanding job.


Health and wellness programs can include different things like:

  • Therapists

  • Crisis counselors

  • Mental health assistance

  • Nutritionists

  • Discounted gym memberships

  • And more

Not only do these included programs encourage employees to use them, but they could improve their overall well-being, making them happier and more productive in the workplace.


#8: Mental Health Coverage


Although many companies offer health and wellness programs as a part of their employee benefits package, more than 25% of employees agreed they’d like additional support specifically for mental health.


Surveys have shown that access to mental health coverage can help create a healthier, safer, and more productive workplace.


#9: Disability


Disability insurance allows employees the opportunity to opt to protect themselves (and their employer) from unforeseen circumstances that would prevent them from working for extended periods.


There are two options for disability insurance — short-term and long-term.

  1. Short-term disability covers situations that would require an employee to be out of work for a short time.

This might include things like:

  • Broken bones

  • Outpatient surgery with recovery time; or

  • Pregnancy or maternity leave

  1. Long-term disability covers situations where an employee must be out for an extended time. However, if long-term disability is needed, an employee must use all of their short-term disability first before rolling into the use of long-term disability.

Long-term disability typically covers situations between 3-6 months of time off regarding different medical issues like:

  • Cancer

  • Mental illness; or

  • Multiple surgeries

Not all states require disability insurance to be included in benefits offered to employees, so check your local state to ensure your company is compliant with this offer.


#10: Student Loan & Tuition Reimbursement


Around 60% of students have some form of debt at the time of their graduation, accumulating more than $1.5 trillion of owed student debt in the United States. On average, students owe nearly $40,000 for a four-year degree with an average monthly payment of almost $400.


Some employers opt to offer student loan & tuition reimbursement to help lessen the financial burden for employees while also encouraging them to continue their education and seek out more degrees.


This is beneficial to both employers and employees. How?

Employees have a financial burden slightly freed from them with the opportunity to continue their education and bring more value to a company. For employers, their employees will be less likely to leave their job with less financial burden and less stress.


Sorbet: The New and Improved Approach to Employee Benefits


Although paid time off (PTO) is one of the top three most important employee benefits that employers can offer and employees care about, not every employee wants to or needs to take all of their PTO.


What if there was a way to use employee PTO in another way? Sorbet offers a genius solution.


Sorbet realistically approaches employee benefits — allowing employees to take advantage of their unused PTO as a cash payout.


This means that employees can:

  • Use some of their PTO and take the cash payout for the rest; or

  • Cash out their PTO in case of an emergency where they need cash now