Which are Legally Required Benefits for Employees?

employee-benefitsThe federal government has implemented some federally mandated benefits programs that can benefit both the employee and the employer. What benefits are required by law? There are mandatory employee benefits. While there are many questions that employees may have regarding the jobs they hold, questions regarding legally required employee benefits they must provide tend to be plentiful. If you are looking for clarity regarding employee benefits required by law, the information found below can be of great benefit to you.

Social Security Taxes

One of the benefits required by law includes social security taxes. As noted by SBA.gov, every employer is required to pay social security and medicare taxes based on the rate their employees pay as legally mandated benefits. In order to be in compliance with the law, there are a plethora of sites which employers can reference, including SocialSecurity.gov to find out more about social security and medicare benefits

Workers Compensation

Businesses are required to carry workers compensation insurance. They have several options. Some of them include offering coverage on a self-insured basis, through a commercial carrier, or through the state’s official Workers’ Compensation Insurance program.

Disability Insurance

State requirements vary when it comes to disability insurance. While disability insurance is not one of the  mandatory benefits, there are certain states and territories that have made it mandatory for businesses to provide employees with partial wage replacement insurance coverage for sicknesses and/or injuries that are not related to work. This is the case in the following states:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island

The requirement to carry unemployment insurance also varies by state.

Leave Benefits

What are legally required benefits? In most cases, the leave benefits offered by employers are not federal requirements. Generally, these benefits are offered to a business’s employees as an aspect of the employer’s overall benefits and compensation package. Some of the leave benefits an employer may offer include jury duty, holiday/vacation, sick leave, funeral/bereavement leave, and personal leave. While these benefits are optional, every employer is required to offer leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Family and Medical Leave

An employer who employs 50 or more full time or part time employees are required to offer family and medical leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) ensures that employees can obtain up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during a twelve month period as long as the reason pertains to one of the following:

•Birth and care for the employee’s child
•Foster care or adoption placement for a child
•Care for an immediate family member (parent, child, spouse) with a serious health issue
•Care for an employee’s own serious health issue

Additionally, FMLA has made it mandatory for employers to ensure that their employees maintain group health benefits during their leave. The rules and regulations outlined by FMLA are applicable to both private employers who have 50 or more employees and all public employers.

Related Resource: Returning to Work After Baby

Health Insurance

Health insurance is not one of the employee benefits required by law. Some employers provide healthcare coverage and others do not. According to Legally Mandated Employee Benefits, employers do not have to offer health insurance coverage to their employees, although many do. Typically, what type of health insurance an employee gains results from negotiating with the employer. If you are in need of healthcare coverage and your employer does not provide health insurance, be sure to check out independent options. After the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, there are more affordable health insurance options available.

Other Employee Benefits

Although they are not always thought of as legally required benefits for employees, minimum wage and overtime pay are also required by law.


What benefits are employers legally required to provide? As made plain by the information listed above, employees are entitled to a variety legally required benefits which employers are required to offer. By reading the information found above about required employee benefits, you can gain a better understanding of which employee benefits employers should be providing.

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