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How much do benefits cost an employer

how much do benefits cost an employer

4 Answers

Quora User. Formerly $180 Million National Budget Coordinator

All of these things are highly dependent on the insurance policies in question. Also, to a lesser extent on the company's HR policies. My answer is grounded in how to go about budgeting for it and the cashflow/timing of the payments and is limited by my experiences.


There's (A) a one time cost for bringing on an employee, (B) monthly costs, and (C) annual costs all of which can be fixed per employee fees or based on salary and/or tenure. Because of all of the ranges and intersections of these variables, there is no quick answer to this question.

Health Insurance Benefits

Companies generally provide at least 2 plan options - HMO and PPO. The PPO is more expensive each month/employee. Rates vary by provider, geographical location of your company, risk of the employee group (under 50 employees you generally have to have underwriting), number of employees, amount of coverage/deductible/copay s, and a couple of other things. Rates per employee vary as well. There are three general categories an employee may be: single, employee and a partner, or a family (employee and kid(s)s - with or without a partner regardless of the number of children). So, in order of least expensive to most expensive, you're going to have 6 rate categories at a minimum which I think of: HMO Single (

$300+/month/employee), PPO Single, HMO +1 adult, PPO +1 adult, HMO Family, and PPO Family (

$1300+/month/employee). Depending on the company's HR policy the company pays 70-90% of the monthly premium regardless of which of the 6 rate categories the employee chooses/falls into. (To prevent encouraging two-working-parent families from having double coverage with both employers plans and a couple of other things, most companies don't offer 100% premium coverage.)

I don't have a good rule of thumb that will get you out of modeling this when you're choosing between policy options and doing the first annual budget because of the highly variable nature of the market.

You may or may not pay a down-payment when you start coverage. Paid monthly. The policy renews on an annual basis.

Other possible benefits include:

  • Dental Insurance - fixed per month per employee. Paid monthly.
  • Vision Insurance - sometimes combined with the health insurance, sometimes not. I remember this being fixed per month per employee. Paid monthly.
  • Life Insurance - It's generally connected/part of the health care coverage. The premium the company pays is based on a percentage

    of salaries because the benefits get paid out based on salary. Paid monthly.

  • Short and/or long-term Disability Insurance
  • Accidental death and dismemberment insurance
  • Retirement related - a question unto itself.
  • Aflac options - No company costs. Everything is paid by the employee if they choose to opt-in to a policy option.
  • Bonuses - per project or annually or both.
  • Personal and vacation time - cost per month varies based on how you conceptualize it (calendar year, rolling year, carryover, how does tenure fit in, etc.). Hint 1: Calendar year without rollover in a large company is really good way to get nothing done in December when everyone reaches the point of "take the days or loose them." Hint 2: If you let them rollover forever you end up with people retiring with 1-2 years worth of paid vacation time owed them in a lump sum.
  • Family and medical leave - see federal law on requirements.

Obviously, an HR employees time to set-up and maintain these benefits is on top of these costs.

Other things to take into account when adding to your FTE count:

  • Payroll Taxes -
8-9% of salary, will vary by state. Paid at the time of payroll processing.
  • Technology - Highly IT infrastructure dependent and there will probably be employee levels (the CEO always costs more than a call center representative). Don't forget desk phone, mobile phone, and software licenses. $1-2K initial cost minimum, a minimum of $70/month/user if you provide mobile phones, and a couple hundred dollars a year in anti-virus licenses, M$ upgrades (Exchange Server, Office, network accounts), and any other software seats you use (the most well-known example would be Salesforce).
  • Payroll processing - It's a fee per check per employee per pay period (26 pay periods/year), annual fees, and end of the year tax forms at a minimum. Maybe a minimum of $100/year/employee. Rates depend on payroll processor provider and number of employees. Paid each payroll period.
  • COBRA administration - It's completely worth contracting this out to avoid the regulatory and compliance hassles.
  • Worker's compensation insurance - required by law. Rates vary by state and risk classification of the work being done and don't get negotiated. Paid annually, but getting an interest free payment plan shouldn't be a problem if you want it.
  • Training time - training costs the time of their trainer and the employee(s) undergoing training.
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