When you sign that employment contract, you could be selling your soul to a company that's going to use and abuse you. So you'd better make sure you're getting not only your money's worth, but also your fair share of work benefits.
Think work benefits don't matter? Well, just imagine if you had to spend a big chunk of your salary on health insurance and medical care, taking a taxi home after a late night at the office or eating out after a long evening at work.
With the right benefits, you'll not only suffer less at work but also get to use some of your money on yourself, rather than to keep yourself alive so you can turn up at work for one more day.
Here are five benefits other than the usual paid annual leave and medical insurance that Singaporeans would love to receive:
Public transport in Singapore is cheap, but having to use it each and every day can be a drag. It's not uncommon to be at the office till late at night or, as is the case during crunch-time for thousands of employees, after midnight, when it would be impossible to take the MRT even if you wanted to.
Some companies, bless their souls, pay out a transport allowance in a lump sum of, say, $500 a month, or allow their employees to make taxi or petrol claims by submitting their receipts. If you're a sales person or otherwise have to rely on your vehicle to visit clients, it's important your company provide this.
Having a transport allowance goes a long way, especially for those who work late or have a long commute. Sometimes you're just too zombified to spend 1.5 hours standing on the MRT, waiting for the feeder bus and then riding home to a house where everyone is already fast asleep.
Working an office job can be quite punishing on the body, especially if you don't engage in any regular form of exercise outside of work hours.
Of course, if you weren't already spending upwards of 10 hours commuting to work and sitting in your cubicle each day, you'd have all the time in the world to go on long meandering runs, work on your taekwondo kicks and practise your salsa moves.
But thanks to your job, you barely have time to squeeze in a quick workout at the gym before collapsing into bed. So a gym membership from your employer, preferably at a gym close to your workplace, can help to keep your body in good shape so you may live to work another day.
Some companies sign their employees up to gyms at chains like Fitness First or True Fitness, or, like Siemens and SPH, have an in-house gym they can use for free. If you're the sort of person who would sign up for a gym membership anyway, this is one benefit that can save you a hundred bucks a month.
Most companies already provide some sort of health insurance (and if yours doesn't, they should be) or access to a company doctor. But these benefits often do not cover dental work.
Now, this is tricky, as you don't need to be "sick" to have to see a dentist. Whether your teeth look like the charred remains of a deadly inferno or like they belong in a Colgate commercial, you've got to go for regular checkups and professional cleaning, which can cost quite a bit.
Dental benefits can alleviate the cost, and maybe put you in the running for some aesthetic treatments like whitening or braces as well.
Who's got time to cook when there's a neverending pile of work that only seems to grow with each passing day? Not Singaporeans, as evidenced by this rather discouraging article that highlights how common it is for locals to eat out five times a week.
That's why companies that offer free meals can be a godsend. Google's Singapore office provides free breakfast AND lunch, and also has mini kitchens and stocked fridges. I can't remember ever having eaten breakfast in my years at Raffles Place!
Yay, we're #1 again! It's official: Singapore is the nation with the world's worst eyesight. Almost everybody is myopic, and if you see someone walking around without glasses on his face, chances are he's wearing contact lenses.
That's why an optical allowance makes so much sense. Dell's Singapore office is one of the few that offers optical care reimbursement, which can be a big financial incentive for those who have to spend hundreds of dollars each year on glasses, contact lenses and contact lens solution.
Your time in front of the computer at work could be making your eyesight worse. And uh, let's face it, those gold rimmed glasses you've been wearing since Sec 1 are probably scaring your clients. A little help to update your look would be most welcome.
This article first appeared on MoneySmart
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