Can I negotiate my employee benefits?

By: Dave Roos
Benefit statement.
Sure, the paycheck is nice, but there's much more to your employee compensation package than the money.
Rob Casey/Getty Images

In theory, you could negotiate every part of your employee compensation package, including base salary, bonuses, stock options, health coverage, tuition reimbursement and severance [source:]. The reality is that very few new hires have that much negotiating power. If you're a high-level executive with a proven track record for doubling profits, everything is on the table. If this is your first job out of college, there may not even be a table.

The best time to discuss employee benefits is during your initial salary negotiations. In other words, after they've offered you the job, but before you've accepted it. Another good time to negotiate for better employee benefits is during annual performance reviews.


Experts say that the best way to upgrade your employee benefits is to be honest with your employer about the perks that can improve your overall job performance and quality of life [source: CareerBuilder]. Don't simply demand more unpaid vacation days because you think you deserve them. Explain that a few more days off will help reduce stress, clear your head and make you more productive back at the office.

You should know that some employee benefits are usually non-negotiable. At most jobs, this includes health benefits, 401(k) plans, insurance plans and stock options [source: Sturgeon]. That said, if you or a family member have a specific health concern, your employer might work with you to secure the coverage you need.

The most negotiable benefits are days off. Although many companies offer fixed amounts of paid vacation days, sick days and personal days, you can usually negotiate for more unpaid vacation time. You could even ask for specific days, like your birthday or anniversary [source: CareerBuilder].

Where you work might also be negotiable. If you spend most of your day in front of a computer, ask to work 1 or more days a week from home. More and more employers are open to flexible scheduling (such as arriving and leaving early, or working a full 40 hours, but taking every other Friday off).

If you're a woman and thinking about starting a family, it's smart to get your maternity leave benefits in writing. Even if you think you'll only need 12 weeks -- the amount guaranteed by U.S. law -- ask for twice that much [source: Holcomb]. It's always better to have extra time than to feel rushed back before you're ready. Also, ask about flexible work hours, working from home or other options that can ease your transition to motherhood [source: Fenton].

If you have to move for your new job, ask for relocation benefits. Your new employer might cover your moving costs and pay your rent while you look for a new house. According to a survey by the Society for Human Resources Management, 54 percent of HR reps say payment for relocation costs are negotiable, but only 34 percent of employees ask [source: Lisle].

Other negotiable benefits are education and wellness programs. Even if your company doesn't have an established tuition reimbursement policy, ask your boss to cover a specific course that would improve your job skills. Healthy employees are better employees, so ask your boss to chip in on a gym membership or bring a yoga instructor to work once a month [source: Ruehl].

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Lots More Information

Related Articles


  • "Things You Can Negotiate For at Work (And Didn't Know It)"
  • Fenton, Angelia. "Negotiating Maternity Leave"
  • Holcomb, Betty. "Your Smart Guide to Maternity Leave" Parents.
  • Lisle, Jennifer. "Relocation Benefits Are Often Negotiable." Career Insider. March 10, 2009
  • Ruehl, Kim. "6 Alternatives to a Pay Increase" Yahoo! Hotjobs.
  • "'s Negotiation Clinic: Everything is Negotiable"
  • Sturgeon, Julie. "Yours for the asking: better benefits."