Knowing what questions to ask and taking some time to review the benefits policies before you take on a job will ensure you end up at an organization that fits your lifestyle – and offers some room to grow!

Gone are the days where salary is the only point of negotiation when looking at a new role. As employers look to woo top talent who are more concerned about work-life balance than loyalty. Perks like financial and physical wellness programming, charitable matchmaking programs where employers support employee-directed causes, unlimited vacation days and the ability to work remotely are becoming commonplace, sweetening renumeration packages beyond traditional offerings like medical coverage and pensions.

But every employer’s offerings are different.

Whether you’re right out of university and looking for your first job or making the jump from freelancer to an in-house position, here are the questions you need to be asking about the benefits plan once a job offer has been tabled.

When Does the Probation Period End?

Some employers will offer up benefits immediately, while others may require you to work for upwards of three months before benefits begin. Be sure you understand and are comfortable with the probation period before you accept an offer.

What Are the Stipulations Surrounding Medical and Dental Insurance?

How much will coverage cost you? Do you pay up front as in a health spending account system or are premiums deducted before tax dollars from your paycheque? Who’s covered under the plans: spouse? common-law? same-sex partner? children? And what about travel insurance, does the company cover you even on vacation?

What Opportunities are There for Bonuses or Compensation Beyond Your Base Salary?

Never accept a job offer without taking some time to consider it. If the salary isn’t what you were hoping or falls below industry standards (you can research through glassdoor.ca or monster.ca) maybe there’s some wiggle-room surrounding other benefits. Could the base salary be extended to bonuses and stock options? And if there are bonuses, how are they determined? How much would that incentive be on average as a percentage of your salary? Does the company have RRSP matching? Do they offer share matching programs?

Does the Company Have a Pension Plan?

It’s also good to inquire about life insurance and pension plans — does the company offer one or both? And if so, how are they structured? What does the company contribute? Is your contribution taken directly off your paycheque or made separately? Is there a contribution limit?

How do Vacations and Flexibility Work?

Asking about vacation or a sabbatical during the job interview might not be a wise move, but once an offer is in hand, now’s your chance to talk more about vacation days and working remotely. Outside of the basics like whether working from home is an option and how many vacation/sick days you have, ask whether you can roll-over days from a previous year and if there’s an opportunity to convert overtime into lieu days. Will you be paid for vacation days? Can you take an unpaid sabbatical at some point? What about mental health or personal well-being days, does the company allow them?

Are There Transportation Benefits?

Some companies offer car allowances or mileage and gas, others – if you’re commuting – will foot all or some of the bill for transit. What information will you need to supply the company with? What records will you have to keep?

What Other Unconventional Benefits Programs are There and Do You Need to Opt-in?

Companies are trying to attract top talent by providing unique perks. What opt-in benefits are there? Pet insurance? Is it a pet friendly work-place? Will there be bonuses for recruiting friends? Does the employer match employee donations to charities? Does the company cover gym memberships? Will the company support lifelong learning or continuing education tuition reimbursement? Are any of these benefits available to spouses or dependents? What sort of parental leave is available?

Whether or not all these benefits apply to you, knowing the questions to ask and taking some time to review the benefits policies before you take on a job will ensure you end up at an organization that fits your lifestyle – and offers some room to grow.

Looking to cover your bills if you ever get sick or injured and can’t work? Learn more about disability insurance.

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This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.