Employment benefits, or employee benefits, are non-cash and cash benefits that are distributed from an employer to an employee as part of their compensation. “Employment benefits” is a very broad term that covers many different aspects that can be considered as benefits.

For example, an employee’s benefits package may include such things as medical and dental insurance, life insurance, pension plans, and disability provisions. Even such things as company-sponsored vehicles or work clothes can sometimes be considered as benefits depending on how they are used.  

Depending on how they are classified, some employee benefits may have various effects on the tax reports of both employers and employees. Certain types of employment benefits are sometimes referred to as “fringe benefits”.

How Are Employment Benefits Obtained?

Some employment benefits are required under state and federal laws. Examples of these include family leave, medical leave, unemployment insurance, and pregnancy leave. Other types of employee benefits are not mandatory under law and therefore must be negotiated between employer and employee.

In most cases it will be the employer who presents the employee with various benefits options. The parties will then have to negotiate the terms under which the benefit will be distributed to the employee. This is usually done before employment begins. 

The results of the negotiations will then be finalized in some form of employment contract. Benefits may be periodically renegotiated as the needs of the company and the employee evolve. 

What If My Benefits Have Been Wrongfully Withheld?

Employers are prohibited from depriving an employee of benefits which they are lawfully entitled to. This is especially true of benefits that are required by law, such as those involving family and medical leave. Also, any benefits that have been negotiated under a valid employment contracts may not be withheld.  

An employee whose benefits have been withheld may have a number of legal remedies available to them. First, they may choose to report the unlawful withholding to a government administrative agency. The agency will then conduct an investigation and prescribe an appropriate remedy. 

Alternatively, the affected employee can file a private lawsuit against their employer in order to recover any losses. Depending on the type of violation, the employee is sometimes not allowed to file a lawsuit unless they have first reported the misconduct to a government agency. 

What Are the Remedies for a Wrongful Withholding of Employee Benefits?

The remedies may include:

  • Recovery of benefits including back pay and liquidated damages
  • Punitive damages if the employer’s intent was willful
  • An injunction requiring the employer to adjust their company policies

Thus, there are several different options for an employee who has been subject to a wrongful withholding of benefits. 

Also, some benefits require some benefits require that the employee invest a portion of their paycheck into funds which will go towards retirement, insurance, etc. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to recover these costs as well. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Issues with Employment Benefits?

Hiring an employment lawyer can be helpful when dealing with employment benefits. From the outset, your lawyer can help you negotiate, draft, and review any contracts that you might form with an employer. If your legal rights to benefits have been violated, your attorney can help you file a claim in court or with the appropriate administrative agency. 

Cases involving employment benefits can often be complex, so it is to your advantage to consult with a lawyer for advice.