One-half continuing all employee benefits: survey
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than a third (37 per cent) of Canadian employers say they have not made any adjustments to compensation. However, some are considering freezing or postponing non-statutory salary adjustments or merit increases (23 per cent), cutting pay (15 per cent) or reducing bonuses (four per cent), found a survey by Aon.
Two in five respondents have laid off employees temporarily, while about a quarter (23 per cent) encouraged workers to take annual leave and one in five (19 per cent) extended telework practices, found the survey of 258 employers between April 1 and April 3.
Changes to employee benefits
The participants were also asked whether or not they would continue benefits for workers, including those who were laid off. One-half say that they would continue all benefits, including optional benefits and disability benefits, says Alexandra Georgescu, vice-president or health solutions for Aon in Montreal.
“That was very comforting to know that at least 50 per cent remain protected for disability benefits particularly because it’s a big worry.”
About a third (31 per cent) are extending sick leave or quarantine leave with pay, found Aon, and most respondents (72 per cent) aren’t making any changes to benefit cost-sharing, but one in five say they are moving to 100 per cent employer-paid.
In the immediate future, benefit costs should drop for many businesses, but the story is different post-pandemic, according to Georgescu.
“We’ll likely see a reduction in the medium term because services are not available. We’re starting to see a trend or impact factor added to the renewals so definitely on the longer term, we will see an escalation of cost. Once dentists’ offices start reopening, they will extend hours, they will want to make back time,” says.
When the economy does reopen, many businesses will continue to ask questions about how to handle the new reality and “resuming normal operations in what could be a radically changed economic environment,” she says.
“Really, we cannot reopen and just send everybody back to work the way used to be and so they need to adapt right now. I had a call with a client this morning who was wondering, ‘Can I take employee temperatures when they come in? Am I in breach of their rights, can I enforce them? Do I need to have plexiglass?’ All these questions are coming up,” says Georgescu. “There are a lot of considerations so everything’s changing all the time.”
Meanwhile, benefit costs for drug coverage rose slightly in 2019 (one per cent higher), found another new survey.