How companies can manage perks and benefits for remote employees
Benefits 5 minute read

How companies can manage perks and benefits for remote employees

Megan Orr | July 22, 2021

Hybrid and work from anywhere models have completely changed the way that organizations attract and retain talent. Perks and benefits for remote employees can be complicated to manage. Here’s what you need to consider.

“Competitive benefits package” is a commonly used phrase in job postings. Offering a comprehensive care package is often a big draw in talent acquisition. 

On top of benefits, many organizations place a lot of emphasis on their perks, which often tie into company—and specifically office—culture. Whether it’s yoga classes on Friday afternoons, a fully stocked kitchen, or the opportunity to play a game of ping-pong at lunch, these offerings have less of a draw for candidates or employees if the role is remote.

So, how can organizations take care of their employees and continue to attract a quality talent pool? It’s still through their culture, benefits, and perks—but as workplaces continue to transition to hybrid and remote models, these workplace staples may need to be updated. 

If you haven’t already, start looking into benefits packages that will cover all of your employees, wherever they are. 

Benefits Canada explains that: “While pan-Canadian employers with national structures won’t likely face too much of a challenge, plan sponsors that have been operating exclusively in one province will face payroll and taxation implications with their out-of-province staff”. 

If an employer has employees in more than one province, it can be challenging to determine which guidelines to follow. Although, according to employer advisor McCarthy Tétrault, generally taxation favours the employer’s province, it can be complicated to determine whether the employee’s home office is considered a permanent establishment. 

On top of that, if employees have moved to a new province, they may not be able to switch their healthcare over right away. Many provinces have a three-month period before benefits apply after moving, meaning that an employee would potentially go without access to care for 90 days or more. 

In general, many plans will cover across Canada, so this may not be a concern for you. However, you should check with your benefits provider about what’s covered, and potentially re-evaluate your employee plans to better cover those working from another part of Canada.

It gets even more complicated when considering how to manage benefits for remote employees working internationally. Employees may risk losing their benefits altogether when moving to another country, which is something that both they and their employer need to be aware of. 

Benefits Canada writes that: “Benefits plans for global employees must meet the host country’s employment laws and tax rules and may require establishing a local corporation. As an example, Fritsch points to France, where an employer must have a local entity set up and be remitting taxes”.

On top of figuring out how you can even offer benefits in another country, you might also need to determine whether what you offer is even considered competitive there. For example, in the UK their standard healthcare covers most things, such as dental, that are usually considered extra here, whereas their benefits packages emphasize a higher payout for life benefits. 

Benefits plans therefore need to be both competitive for the region, and compliant with all local regulations. Employer and employee should work together to ensure that coverage is adequate. 

Beyond ensuring that benefits for remote employees are competitive, employers should also focus on creating compelling perks that will benefit employees in and out of the office. 

Here are some outside-the-office perks that you can use to attract and retain talent:

  • A flexible health spending account: If you’re struggling to find a solution to benefits for remote employees, a flexible spending account might be the way to go. Employees can use the account for their specific healthcare needs wherever they are located. 
  • Tech subsidies: Offer employees a yearly allowance for upgrading and trying new technologies. Whether it’s a second monitor to do their work more efficiently or an upgraded work phone, providing your employees with the resources they need—and want—to do their jobs is a great way to keep them productive and engaged. 
  • Learning and development: Provide your employees a generous allowance for yearly learning and development. They can attend conferences, participate in webinars, or read the latest books to keep on top of their industry. 
  • Home office expenses: Providing remote employees with the money they need to create the best home office is a no-brainer. Employees can invest in standing desks, laptop stands, and a better WiFi package, ultimately resulting in increased productivity and engagement. 
  • Group RRSP: According to Canadian Payroll Services Inc., “retirement savings consistently poll as one of the most popular employee benefits”, providing employees with an easy way to put money aside for retirement with each pay cheque. 

The workplace has changed. The need to create an employee-centric company culture with robust benefits and an emphasis on wellness has not.

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