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Workplace Glossary – Employee Benefits

Employee Benefits

An important part of everyone’s work life, employee benefit packages come in all shapes and sizes.  Our workplace glossary covers some of the basics to give you greater understanding of your overall compensation package.

Benefits Package

This is how employers will refer to the sum total of all the benefits you will receive as an employee. Benefits package could include retirement program, health and wellness plan and tuition reimbursement. The benefits package could be the reason you choose one employment offer from one employer over another.

Bereavement Leave

This is paid leave or time off that an employee can take as a result of the death of a close family member. Typically these familial relationships are identified in the company’s leave policy.

Deferred Holiday

Sometimes organizations choose whether or not to observe a specific government holiday on the actual day of the holiday. For example, a company could choose to have employees come to work on President’s Day or Columbus Day and then defer that day-off to use at another time. Companies will do this if taking the holiday is going to be disruptive to operations. You will find this in the higher education sector a lot, where colleges and universities will have classes on both of these holidays and allow employees to defer the time off to use during semester breaks.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

A benefit offered by some employers that will allow employees to put pre-tax money from their wages aside in a savings account. The employee can use this money to pay for benefits such as deductibles or co-pays at the doctor’s office.

Flex time

Employers sometimes are willing to adjust, or make more flexible, the schedule of employees. It is a variable work schedule which is different from the traditional hours. For example some employers might allow employees instead of working 8:00am to 5:00pm every day, to work 10:00am to 7:00pm to alleviate traffic problems or work with public transportation. This is company policy, not employee policy and so has to be established and approved by employers.

Holiday Pay

This is pay at a premium rate that an employee will earn for working on holidays.

KSA’s (Knowledge, Skills & Abilities)

What is required to perform a job. You can generally find this information in a job description and is based on the skills, knowledge, education, competencies or training required to perform the job.


Approved or unapproved time away from work. Unless it is an emergency or special circumstance, leave must be approved by the employer before the employee can take the time off.

Non-Exempt Employee

These employees are subject to wage and hour guidelines which were established by the Fair Labor Standards Act that was set up in 1983. These employees must receive at least the minimum wage payment established by the state where they are employed or set by the United States Congress. These employees must also be paid at an overtime rate for any hours worked beyond 40 hours in the workweek.

Personal Day

A leave option that allow employees to take paid time off from work.

Shift Differential

Applicable for employees who work on shifts and schedules outside of the regular business day. It is a premium received as extra amount added to per hour if a shift starts at a certain time. For example if shifts start after 4p and before 7am.

Short Term Disability Insurance

Provides short-term (typically 26 weeks) income protection to employees who are unable to work due to a non-work-related accident or illness. Sometimes employees are able to purchase this through their employer for their own protection.

Stress Leave

Time off from work related to stress. You will want to have conversations with a medical professional about what would qualify as stress. You will also need to speak to the Human Resources office to find out what type of documentation is required from the medical professional and the requirements for returning to work.

Tuition Reimbursement

One of the benefits that some companies offer to their employees is to pay the tuition on behalf of the employee for training or further education. Companies will have their own internal company policies about how this is done. For example the benefit will become available only after probation or the employee might have to pay the bill and then get reimbursed in full or partially. This is something you could research as a job seeker or when you are at the offer-of-employment stage in a job search.

Unemployment Insurance

A source of income for workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. In most cases, workers who quit or are fired for cause are not eligible for this income and cannot make claims for this income. The Department of Labor in each State oversees this program and will verify reason for separation with the employer.

Vacation Pay

This is payment earned during the time when you are on vacation. Employees usually earn one or two weeks of vacation time for each year worked. Therefore an eligible employee can take a vacation and still be paid. Not everyone uses all their earned vacation days each year. Check with your company about whether or not you can accumulate the earned time you don’t use. Sometimes the “use it or lose it” policy might apply.

Workers Compensation

You will hear this referred to often as “Worker’s Comp”. It works just like any other insurance. Employers pay insurance to a vendor who will compensate the employees for work-related injuries or even death.

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