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View Full Version : OT - Employer benefits for families vs. Child-free employees


QueenGoblin
09-10-2007, 07:43 AM
I'm just wondering if any one else has run into this attitude, and what are your reactions/thoughts.

First, disclaimer. I have two children but I absolutely do not think everyone should be parents or secretly want to be parents. I think choosing to be child-free is a perfect choice for some people (and that it can be a wonderful, rewarding lifestyle for those who are childfree through circumstance rather than choice.) I have friends who have made that choice and I know it comes with its own set of challenges (not the least of which is answering the "when are you going to have kids?" questions.)

It seems like some child-free people (not all!!!!) really resent any employee benefits that are designed to help families. I am talking about things like on-site daycare (which in my experience is not free, but it might be subsidized slightly) or other programs aimed at attracting working parents. My friend was at a new employee orientation recently where a man stood up, announced that he was single and asked the HR rep what the company was doing for HIM since he was "paying for" these family benefits.

I live in PA and there is a lot of lipservice being given right now to eliminating the property tax (which funds schools primarily) in favor of income or sales taxes. Typically someone has to throw in the comment that it is "not fair" that child-free people have to pay for other people's kids to go to school.

My opinion has been that any "benefit" extended to families is just a drop in the bucket compared to the tremendous investment of time and money it takes to raise a child. Yes, having kids was our "choice" but kids aren't a hobby or a pet or something just for our personal enjoyment. They are our investment in the future and we take our responsibly to raise them well very seriously. They will be the doctors, lawyers, post officers and garbage collectors for all of us (child-free or parents) when we are senior citizens and retired.

Do you think people who make these kids of comments don't realize how expensive kids are? Do you think they just haven't considered what their world would look like 40 years from now if everyone either stopped having kids or stopped worrying about their education, health, values, etc.? Or do they have a point that I am missing?

Manda
09-10-2007, 09:50 AM
Well, I've chosen to be the Mom of an only child. For my benefits option, I can either be single or family. So, to carry me and my child (my husband has his own plan), I'm paying the same price as someone who has 5 or 8 or 10 kids and a husband on their plan. It enrages me. I don't care how many kids someone else wants to have, but they should be paying for each one instead of me subsidizing them. Not much I can do about it though. I always have the option of finding a job elsewhere.

As far as what benefits an employer offers... there are any number of benefits that are offered that not every employee can or will take advantage of. I used my employer's tuition reimbursement plan to get a degree, but most people don't. I'll never use the adoption reimbursement or the vision plan or the pension. I'm not going to be mad at them for offering it though, I guess. Ideally, they'd offer the perfect package just for me, but they've got to provide the best one-size-fits-all package.

eliza61
09-10-2007, 10:46 AM
It seems like some child-free people (not all!!!!) really resent any employee benefits that are designed to help families. I am talking about things like on-site daycare (which in my experience is not free, but it might be subsidized slightly) or other programs aimed at attracting working parents. My friend was at a new employee orientation recently where a man stood up, announced that he was single and asked the HR rep what the company was doing for HIM since he was "paying for" these family benefits.

I live in PA and there is a lot of lipservice being given right now to eliminating the property tax (which funds schools primarily) in favor of income or sales taxes. Typically someone has to throw in the comment that it is "not fair" that child-free people have to pay for other people's kids to go to school.

Do you think people who make these kids of comments don't realize how expensive kids are? Do you think they just haven't considered what their world would look like 40 years from now if everyone either stopped having kids or stopped worrying about their education, health, values, etc.? Or do they have a point that I am missing?

I do have kids but I can see how it could cause tension. This is one of the reasons Florida school system is detorating, because the large number of senior citizens don't want to fund education.

Expense is not a good reason to expect benefits, bottom line- you did make the choice to incur those expenses.
A few years ago my job would allow all those people who had kids to go home early on Friday and bad weather days. After a while it did get on my nerves.
Why just because some one had kids did they get to start their weekend before me? Wasn't it just as dangerous for me to drive in snow as a mother or was my life expendable because I didn't have offspring (could I count my dog hobbes). Unfortunately most people don't go around thinking about the world looks like in 40 years (or global warming wouldn't be a problem).

swilshire
09-10-2007, 11:38 AM
Well, I've chosen to be the Mom of an only child. For my benefits option, I can either be single or family. So, to carry me and my child (my husband has his own plan), I'm paying the same price as someone who has 5 or 8 or 10 kids and a husband on their plan. It enrages me. I don't care how many kids someone else wants to have, but they should be paying for each one instead of me subsidizing them. Not much I can do about it though. I always have the option of finding a job elsewhere.


You could find a job elsewhere, but this is the norm for every insurance company I've ever been involved with. My guess is that they choose to do it this way because it simplifies things. Your one child (God forbid) could have medical prolbems and cost the insurance company more than the person with 10 kids.

Sheila

chicagodisneyfan
09-10-2007, 11:54 AM
I make more than $8000 more than another person who does my exact same job.

Why? Because I do not use the benefits from the company. I have to prove I have insurance each year, but the extra money is great.

To me that makes more sense - you use all the benefits, you pay the price.
You use nothing, you pay nothing. The extra money I make is not near the actual price the company spends on benefits - so the company benefits too.

memobrien
09-10-2007, 02:44 PM
You could find a job elsewhere, but this is the norm for every insurance company I've ever been involved with. My guess is that they choose to do it this way because it simplifies things. Your one child (God forbid) could have medical prolbems and cost the insurance company more than the person with 10 kids.

Sheila

I use to work in benefits and this was a HUGE complaint and it was a HUGE complaint that our company had with the insurance company. Many insurance companies, and employers offer Employee +1 coverage. This is just for the case you explained, or even someone who has a spouse but no children. This helps SOMEWHAT. But I'm still right there with being aggrevated that someone with 2 kids pays the same as someone with 10 kids. It isn't the same.


And to you point about costing more for 1 child with issues compared to the person with 10 kids....that is all factored it anyway. The reality is that MANY, MANY Adults pay in and never really use the insurance. The health insurance companies make LOTS of money off of these people. Then you have people who have real medical needs and they then cost the insurance company LOTS and LOTS of money. The insurance companies know this is the case and that is how they come up with premiums to begin with. That has nothing to do with 1 verse 10. it's about the averge cost per member. In some cases they win and some cases they lose. (BTW, my DH had serious health issues, so I have sort of been on both sides of this).

Personnally I think that it should be a rate per member. Yes, maybe the supersized families would pay more. But then again it might help those families who specifically choose to not be supersized becasue they feel they can't financially support that size family.


As for the guy who stood up and ws outraged that there are added things available for those with families..... WOW..that must take nerve! if he had any idea how much daycare cost he wouldbe apologizing...hehe. seriously i look at it like any other benefit that you can choose to take to take or not take. it's not like the money is coming out of his check to pay for it.

maura

memobrien
09-10-2007, 02:57 PM
A few years ago my job would allow all those people who had kids to go home early on Friday and bad weather days. After a while it did get on my nerves.
Why just because some one had kids did they get to start their weekend before me? Wasn't it just as dangerous for me to drive in snow as a mother or was my life expendable because I didn't have offspring (could I count my dog hobbes).

ok that is really bad. i've neverheard of that one. letting people out early because of bad weather...sure of course...BUT all the companies i've worked out let EVERYONE out early.

Ok, once there was 1 exception to that.... I had a boss who let me leave at like noon right before christmas. and he didn't let the rest of the department go that early. but in all fairness they were all on this HUGE project that had to be complete that day. I was NOT on the project and couldn't even help them with what they were doing. So that's a little different. But he did say to me that I should go home early becuase it was my daughters birthday weekend as well. But still that's different.

I would have been ripped if i were you!!

QueenGoblin
09-10-2007, 03:10 PM
We actually don't take advantage of most of the "family" benefits my DH's employer offers because we live about 45 mins away from his job and they don't make sense logistically. The guy who stood up and made a fuss works at the same place as DH, but DH did not witness it, our friend did. I guess it just bothered me because it was the last in a long line of "me first" comments I have heard lately. There seems to be little "community spirit" for lack of a better term. I don't think all family friendly policies are fair to singles and child-free people (the going home early on Friday thing a PP mentioned does seem unfair) but considering there are days when I am lucky to get a shower, muchless anytime or anything myself, is it so much to expect that members of our greater community would support families even if they don't have children themselves?

Elmo888
09-10-2007, 08:12 PM
We actually don't take advantage of most of the "family" benefits my DH's employer offers because we live about 45 mins away from his job and they don't make sense logistically. The guy who stood up and made a fuss works at the same place as DH, but DH did not witness it, our friend did. I guess it just bothered me because it was the last in a long line of "me first" comments I have heard lately. There seems to be little "community spirit" for lack of a better term. I don't think all family friendly policies are fair to singles and child-free people (the going home early on Friday thing a PP mentioned does seem unfair) but considering there are days when I am lucky to get a shower, muchless anytime or anything myself, is it so much to expect that members of our greater community would support families even if they don't have children themselves?

It is that "me me me" attitude. "What are you doing for me?" Do thse people not realize that there are others besides them? And the end of that community attitude towards raising the next generation. Did not your neighbors yell at you when you did something wrong and your parents didn't see? Mine did. And I'll yell at my friends' and neighbors' kids when I see them do something wrong (well, not yell, but reprimand, etc.) And if children aren't given things like medical prevention (I can't think of the correct word) like shots and checkups, they can grow up to be a financial medical burden on all of society when they are adults. Can't people see beyond their own noses?

Life isn't fair. Get used to it. We are all paying for people who can't pay for themselves. It is called taxes.

(Down off of my soap box...)

ETA: At DH company, employees with no kids do pay less. It is either employee, employee and spouse, employee and kids, or employee and spouse and kids (same amount for 1 or 20 kids).

Reflection
09-12-2007, 09:21 AM
[/QUOTE]....at a new employee orientation recently where a man stood up, announced that he was single and asked the HR rep what the company was doing for HIM since he was "paying for" these family benefits. [/QUOTE]

I can't believe the absurdity of this employee's comment. Does he really think that money is being taken out of his salary to pay for benefits? :confused:

The company I work for offers flexible spending accounts for childcare and medical expenses. Once my daughter turned 13, I could no longer set aside funds, pre-tax, in this account to pay for childcare-related expenses. I can assure that none of co-workers were paying 'their' money into my childcare and medical FSA accounts.

tonilea
09-12-2007, 09:52 AM
We were childless (not by choice) for the first fifteen years of our marriage. I admit, it did irritate me to pay "family coverage" for just me (the dept pays all of DH's ins). Now that we have to pay "family coverage" for me and DS, I don't mind a bit. Of course, I wouldn't complain if we got a discount!

tlbwriter
09-12-2007, 10:18 AM
Do you think people who make these kids of comments don't realize how expensive kids are?

No, I think they don't care how expensive your kids are. And why should they? You are the one who decided to have these expensive kids, so they don't see why they should subsidize that choice.

I think complaining that you shouldn't pay for schools since you have no children in school is ridiculous. Everyone benefits from the education of these children - and if you don't think so, ask yourself if your doctor went to elementary school. But insurance and other benefits are different, and I can see why childless and childfree employees get annoyed when they feel like they're paying for someone else's lifestyle choice. But the bottom line is, it's a business decision. Good benefits attract good employees.

tlbwriter
09-12-2007, 10:21 AM
....at a new employee orientation recently where a man stood up, announced that he was single and asked the HR rep what the company was doing for HIM since he was "paying for" these family benefits.

I can't believe the absurdity of this employee's comment. Does he really think that money is being taken out of his salary to pay for benefits? :confused:


In a way, it is. His company has a certain amount of money to spend on salary and benefits. The more they spend on benefits, the less they have available to spend on salary. If the company is subsidizing the cost of family insurance, rather than passing the entire cost on to the employee, that takes money out of the salary pool.

Reflection
09-12-2007, 10:44 AM
In a way, it is. His company has a certain amount of money to spend on salary and benefits. The more they spend on benefits, the less they have available to spend on salary. If the company is subsidizing the cost of family insurance, rather than passing the entire cost on to the employee, that takes money out of the salary pool.

I understand what you are saying but I don't agree. A $35K a year job (just salary and not including any benefits regardless of the type of benefits for which the employee is eligible) is still a $35K a year job. I doubt an employer is going to pay $45K for a $35K job because there is extra money resulting from cutting benefits packages.

tlbwriter
09-12-2007, 10:50 AM
I understand what you are saying but I don't agree. A $35K a year job (just salary and not including any benefits regardless of the type of benefits for which the employee is eligible) is still a $35K a year job. I doubt an employer is going to pay $45K for a $35K job because there is extra money resulting from cutting benefits packages.

You're looking at it backwards. Of course they're not going to cut benefits and give everybody a raise. But when benefit costs go up, people get smaller raises, or no raise at all. Promotions are postponed or denied. Employees who leave may not be replaced. Full-time jobs become part-time jobs. It's pretty basic. Salary and benefits come out of the same pot, and the more you spend on benefits, the less you can spend on salary.

Luckymomoftwo
09-12-2007, 11:21 AM
A few years ago my job would allow all those people who had kids to go home early on Friday and bad weather days. After a while it did get on my nerves.
Why just because some one had kids did they get to start their weekend before me? Wasn't it just as dangerous for me to drive in snow as a mother or was my life expendable because I didn't have offspring

In my case, I'm the only parent with young children in my office. When the school closes due to weather, so does the daycare because they have full day kindergarden so they follow what the public schools do (In normal circumstances, it's the most logical daycare because it's right on the way to/from work for both my husband and me AND it is a VERY GOOD daycare). Therefore, I have nobody to care for my children if they close school early. My kids are only 7 & 4 so they are not old enough to stay home by themselves. I have no choice but to leave work to take care of my children because otherwise I would be neglecting my children. My husband works for the street department, so it is IMPOSSIBLE for him to leave during a snow storm because he's out there clearing the streets so people CAN drive home!

And my kids are ROWDIE, so sometimes it's MORE of a job to be at home and stay inside with two wound up kids than it is to actually be at the office. :scared:

I'm very fortunate, though...everyone in my office HAS kids, so they understand. The rest of them just have kids that are grown...I'm the "baby" in the office! :lmao:

tlbwriter
09-12-2007, 11:26 AM
My husband works for the street department, so it is IMPOSSIBLE for him to leave during a snow storm because he's out there clearing the streets so people CAN drive home!


And we appreciate him! :thumbsup2

Luckily my DH and I are able to alternate taking off when DD is sick or school is closed. And when we do take off, we use vacation time or sick leave. I think letting people with young kids go home without asking them to make up that time, or use personal time, could easily be construted as playing favorites, and it would bother me as well. But if the schedules are just as flexible for people who don't have children to care for, it's great for everyone.

memobrien
09-12-2007, 12:33 PM
You're looking at it backwards. Of course they're not going to cut benefits and give everybody a raise. But when benefit costs go up, people get smaller raises, or no raise at all. Promotions are postponed or denied. Employees who leave may not be replaced. Full-time jobs become part-time jobs. It's pretty basic. Salary and benefits come out of the same pot, and the more you spend on benefits, the less you can spend on salary.


I agree with you. A 35K job is that because that is what the market for the area pays for it. If they didn't have any benefits then they would just have a harder time filling the position.

the extra money from the benefits would be going to someone's salary but it wouldn't be the kind of peopple who work hard and are making 35k.

maura

Luckymomoftwo
09-15-2007, 10:07 AM
[QUOTE=tlbwriter;20769081]And we appreciate him! :thumbsup2

:thanks: I will let him know you said that!! :goodvibes




And, yes, when I have to leave to take care of my kids (for weather reasons or health reasons), I always use sick time or vacation time, OR I actually make up the time I missed by coming in early, taking short lunches, or staying late.

This has become a larger issue over the years now that both parents are working in most families. And it's obvious that there really is no easy fix to it, there will always be those without kids who will feel things like this are unfair.

I know this is :offtopic: but I can sort of relate...I am not a smoker, and we have a couple of smokers in our office who go outside SEVERAL times a day to smoke. While they are outside smoking, I am covering the phones for them and it takes away from my job productivity. I don't get any extra breaks for anything, while they get numerous breaks throughout the day to go smoke.

So, I can understand why a co-worker with no kids would be upset that a co-worker with kids has to leave early to take care of their kids. But, even though you are an employee and have responsibilities as an employee, you also have responsibilities as a parent.

P.S. I am NOT bad-talking smokers...I have parents and siblings that smoke...I was just making a comparison, so please no flames.

PudgetteD
09-15-2007, 12:35 PM
I think complaining that you shouldn't pay for schools since you have no children in school is ridiculous.

I agree! Those without children who complain about funding schools should look at it as paying back, because chances are someone without children funded THEIR education!

rigs32
09-15-2007, 05:01 PM
Here's another way to look at the math. Let's say that all employees in job X earn $35k. You then need to compare the value of the benefits.

Let's say health insurance for the employee has a premium of $100/mo and family coverage is $250/mo. The employee with a family pays more, but the amount covered by the company is likely much more - let's say the company pays $150/mo for the single employee and $200/mo for the employee using family coverage. So, with that benefit alone, the person with a spouse/kids "makes" $50 more per month.

If a company offers subsidized day care, childfree folks can't benefit. I worked someplace where there was a tuition benefit for employees and their "dependants", but only kids could use it, not spouses. I went round and round with the union rep about how that's technically not a dependant benefit then. So, my DH couldn't use it, but someone with kids could.

I think the best way for companies to handle this situation is to use a menu approach. The place my mom works has that. Each employee gets the same dollar amount and they each choose which benefits they want. So, my mom got some extra life insurance rather than a child care spending account. Each person gets the same total compensation in that scenario.

DawnM
09-15-2007, 05:18 PM
My teaching job in CA paid for ALL benefits of as many family members as you had included for NO additional charge.

Here in NC we can get covered for ourselves on a low budget plan or we can pay extra for a better plan and about $600/mo ($7,200/year) to add my family.

Dawn

esk
09-16-2007, 06:37 AM
I've never worked outside the military, so I'm not really familiar with most of the benefits available, but here are some snippetts that Uncle Sam does for soldiers -- and in the military, everyone gets paid the same, based on time in the service:

-- people with spouses get more housing money than people who are single....and it doesn't matter if your wife is a model pulling down $200K a year, you still get more money

-- Every child gets the exact same government-subsidized day care, but people who make more money (higher in the ranks) pay twice that for the same care. So the low-ranking single soldier pays about $250 a month for 50 hours and the colonel pays over $550 a month, and their babies or children are in the same day care room

-- people who are married get extra money when deployed but single people don't (family separation pay)

-- new soldiers with a spouse can get a 2 bedroom house on the post, free, but if you are not married you have to live in the barracks. Still free, but one room with the shower down the hall as opposed to a 2 bedroom home.

I'm career military, with kids, and while there is some grumbling every now and then, most of the military folks sort of feel like that is the way it is. Nobody feels like if these beneifts were not there, that their paychecks would go up; they realize probably more tanks or planes or whatever would be bought instead. And I am one of the ones "subsidizing" the low ranking soldiers at the day care center but I'm still so happy with the care (and with the government paying into it too...full time care, with all food/formula, for $500 a month!) that I don't complain.

Because I try to imagine what it would cost for life insurance or health care or housing or day care if I didn't have an employer that was paying into it too....and if Uncle Sam gives the guy with 5 kids a bigger house than me, that's OK. He still gave me a house to live in. Not meant to be preachy, just saying I don't really get people being upset by this. It is like saying it isn't fair because movie stars get millions of dollars for a few weeks of work and doctors/policemen get paid very little for what they do. Oh boy. Now I'm on a whole other thread....

jodifla
09-16-2007, 09:12 AM
Here's another way to look at the math. Let's say that all employees in job X earn $35k. You then need to compare the value of the benefits.

If a company offers subsidized day care, childfree folks can't benefit. I worked someplace where there was a tuition benefit for employees and their "dependants", but only kids could use it, not spouses. I went round and round with the union rep about how that's technically not a dependant benefit then. So, my DH couldn't use it, but someone with kids could.

I think the best way for companies to handle this situation is to use a menu approach. The place my mom works has that. Each employee gets the same dollar amount and they each choose which benefits they want. So, my mom got some extra life insurance rather than a child care spending account. Each person gets the same total compensation in that scenario.


Childless people DO get the benefit of an onsite daycare, however. Because those parents don't have to worry about sitters, they can show up at work more easily, and all their co-workers don't have to pick up their slack.

I was childless for 17 of the 20 years I worked at my company. I didn't begrudge any of the benefits those with kids got. It's short-sighted in my view. For even those who didn't have kids tended to have PARENTS, and they need help in their older years.

We gave the same consideration to all our workers for their unique needs: Whether it was leaving to pick up a sick kid, or rushing to the hospital to take care of a sick parent, or leaving early once a week to work on a graduated degree.

Aristomommy
09-16-2007, 09:59 AM
I was thinking about the health care issue in this thread. The amount that employers pay for health insurance depends on how much their employees use the policy. Workers with children are not necessarily the ones spending the most dollars. Think about a worker with a chronic illness or one that goes through an open heart surgery, burn care, joint replacement or cancer treatments. Statistically, this person is likely to be older and will not have children on the policy. A family of 4 without chronic illnesses may only have their well visits and a few additional visits for minor illnesses during the year. Now which one raises the cost of insurance?

I also feel that supporting children's education will only benefit the community at large. Even the person who no longer has children in school or does not have children will benefit from the well educated children in their community. I would rather have a doctor who got a great start in public school than the ones who barely squeaked by in med school because of a poor foundation. Poorly funded schools have higher drop out rates which leads to many problems for the entire community. We should think outside ourselves and see the big picture on how education can make a difference in a child's life.

LisaZoe
09-16-2007, 10:37 AM
I think complaining that you shouldn't pay for schools since you have no children in school is ridiculous. Everyone benefits from the education of these children - and if you don't think so, ask yourself if your doctor went to elementary school. But insurance and other benefits are different, and I can see why childless and childfree employees get annoyed when they feel like they're paying for someone else's lifestyle choice. But the bottom line is, it's a business decision. Good benefits attract good employees.

This is what I was thinking - equating taxes to fund schools to benefits an employer provided doesn't work. Schools benefit the society as a whole while employer offered benefits are for the individuals getting them. I definitely understand why people without children may complain that they are getting shorted on benefits. At my previous job, once people reached a certain level with the company, the company paid all insurance for the employee and his/her dependants. Since benefits are considered as part of the employee's compensation, basically people who were married and/or had kids were getting more compensation than those who had no dependants. The inequity of it definitely bothered me both before and after I adopted my DD.

At one point I became aware that there was also a more hidden disparity. Those with the authority to make decisions about pay and raises would sometimes make comments like X was getting well paid for a single guy while Y had a family so could use the extra money. Although I can understand and empathize with that kind of thinking, it galled me to think it might actually be a factor in deciding who got a raise and who didn't when their work should have been the only deciding factor. Eventually the decision about raises became more professionally handled but it didn't balance out the disparities that occured before then.

I'm all for offering daycare and such to employees because it definitely can benefit the company. However, there are ways to balance things so employees are not being compensated at different rates if their jobs don't warrant the difference. One previous post mentioned the menu plan which is a perfect way to go. An employee is given X dollars for benefits and then decides how those dollars are used. Some may want to get the daycare while others may want additional life/accident insurance, etc.

DawnM
09-16-2007, 12:35 PM
The bad weather I understand because if the schools are closing, your child has nowhere to go until you pick them up (although sick time or personal leave could be used in this case or they could make up the time), but leave early on Fridays???? I have never heard of such a thing!

Fortunately, I work for the same school district that my kids are in, so we will have the same bad weather if it comes up and if their school gets out early, so will mine and I can go and get them.

Dawn

I do have kids but I can see how it could cause tension. This is one of the reasons Florida school system is detorating, because the large number of senior citizens don't want to fund education.

Expense is not a good reason to expect benefits, bottom line- you did make the choice to incur those expenses.
A few years ago my job would allow all those people who had kids to go home early on Friday and bad weather days. After a while it did get on my nerves.
Why just because some one had kids did they get to start their weekend before me? Wasn't it just as dangerous for me to drive in snow as a mother or was my life expendable because I didn't have offspring (could I count my dog hobbes). Unfortunately most people don't go around thinking about the world looks like in 40 years (or global warming wouldn't be a problem).