Payroll Perks and Cultural Factors
Alex Margolin| Jul 08, 2019
In today’s work environment, retaining top talent is harder than ever. The gig economy has turned stability on its head, making it fashionable to move from job to job rather than entrench oneself in a long-term commitment to a single company.
The rapid movement of workers may seem like a golden age in recruiting and hiring, but the truth is not so simple. More workers than ever are looking for short-term contract jobs, not permanent positions. Finding the talent willing to grow with a company is one challenge; keeping those workers aboard is proving even more difficult.
Indeed, workers today have more careers than workers had jobs a generation or two earlier. Employers can expect 30% of their workforce to leave each year, forcing managers to scramble to fill open positions and spend money recruiting and training their new hires. Hiring someone new can cost as much as a third of the worker’s annual salary, raising true payroll costs substantially.
Fortunately, the same gig economy has also helped make the world more global, creating a market for workers across the world and increasing the pool of talent available to companies willing to open operations overseas. In the past, only companies with enormous resources could afford to open branches abroad. Today, any startup can become a multi-national entity by working with a Professional Employment Organization (PEO).
Retaining foreign workers can be just as challenging as holding on to local talent. That’s why it’s useful to keep cultural factors in mind when offering payroll perks designed to keep workers motivated and committed.
Gym Time For the UK
Today’s workers spend long hours at their desks, sitting in front of their computer monitors. They are inactive for long periods of the day – a situation that has been blamed for any number of ailments, including obesity, increased stress, and even heart disease, not to mention a high number of sick days.
Exercise is important for everyone’s health but it is particularly crucial for office workers, so much so that the British government offers tax relief to companies that provide gym access to their employees. Not surprisingly, discounts on gym membership or an on-site facility for larger companies have become popular perks at many UK companies.
As an employer in the UK, your company does not pay tax or National Insurance on exercise facilities under the following conditions:
- All your employees are allowed access
- The public is not allowed access
- Are primarily used by employees, past employees, and their families
- Are not located at a private home or an overnight facility
- Do not involve mechanical vehicles (boat, aircraft, etc..)
Companies that take advantage of the tax breaks are not only creating the opportunity for their workers to add a level of fitness to their lives but also signalling that worker health a strong value to the company, a message that can only help build its image with the workforce. For further guidance see our UK payroll information page
Cuisine is a Real Benefit in France
France is a country for food lovers. French restaurants enjoy a reputation across the world as being among the world’s finest. So it stands to reason that a discount on meals in France would be a popular perk for French workers.
It’s also good for employers. Thanks to government support, French companies can subsidize 50% of the value of a daily voucher (up to a $6 limit) without being obligated to pay taxes or National Insurance on the contribution. The program allows companies to save on their tax spending per worker while providing a well-rounded compensation package to workers.
Under the French government’s program, workers can use the voucher at a restaurant, a supermarket, or a fruit and vegetable shop, which makes them flexible and practical on a day-to-day level. The vouchers are not mandated by law, but are a common benefit at French workplaces.
The vouchers are a great value to workers and a real taste of French culture for workers who come from abroad. For further guidance on non-mandatory benefits see our France guide
In nearby Belgium, workers enjoy a comparable voucher system, with employers contributing $7.75 and employees putting in as little as $1.25 per day. The total is completely tax free for the workers and partially tax free for employees, making it a good value from both perspectives.
Belgium also offers the Eco Cheque plan, which also can be used for meals. The plan allows employers to issue up to $280 per year on vouchers tax free that can be used for all types of ecologically-friendly products. For further guidance on non-mandatory benefits see our Belgium guide
In Italy, the Work Year has 14 Months
It’s not uncommon for countries to offer a 13th month of pay as an end-of-year bonus. In Brazil, Singapore, Philippines, and many other countries, workers receive a 13th month of salary as either a legally-mandated practice or a commonly-held bonus.
Italy, however, goes one step further, granting a 14th month of pay to some workers (primarily in the field of commerce, or to senior executives.) The two bonus months are paid on July 1, and in late December, right before Christmas. That gives qualified workers some extra cash for summertime activities, and for ensuring a joyous Christmas season.
The payment does not include a family allowance bonus, which is based on earnings over 12 months. The 13th and 14th-month payments are pro-rated for earnings based on a full year of work, so workers have a strong incentive to stick to their jobs at least long enough to receive the bonus pay.
Smokeless in America
Once a symbol of cool in America, smoking is slowly becoming a major taboo in the country. In fact, the rate of smokers in America dropped to a record low in 2018. Only 14% of American adults smoked cigarettes last year, compared to a high of 42% in 1965, when Americans were largely unaware of the health risks cigarettes posed. The figures show as steady drop that has continued this day.
Corporate America has been part of the solution. Companies offer a range of wellness programs as benefits to their workers and one of the most effective has been the smoking cessation component at many companies.
There may not be any specific tax savings to offering a smoking cessation program to workers, but focusing on wellness as perks for workers helps a company on numerous levels. It helps keep workers in the best condition possible, so there are fewer days lost to illness or sick leave. It also creates a positive and optimistic environment in the workplace, which can inspire and motivate workers, even those who do not directly benefit from the wellness initiatives.
Benefits for the New Works Era
While contract workers often say they enjoy the freedom of the freelance lifestyle, they also make sacrifices. They do not qualify for the standard work protection enjoyed by regular full-time employees, including a minimum wage, overtime pay, severance pay, or retirement benefits. They also do not receive benefits that could raise their quality of life and help them save on taxes.
Done right, benefits can make the difference between workers staying or going. In an age of movement at a speed that’s never been seen before, benefits can make a difference, especially when they conform to the culture of the host countries. The Papaya Global platform makes it easy to support the perks workers expect in every region.
Learn more about benefits across the world by visiting CountryPedia, a guide to key labor laws in every country – updated regularly – for planning overseas expansion and ensuring global compliance.