WINDSOR, Conn., March 25, 2009 — Most employers are retaining the benefits offered to their employees, according to a LIMRA survey of more than 1000 small, mid-size and large employers, which was conducted in December 2008 and January 2009.
“At a time when companies are looking for ways to cut costs and save money, we were surprised that more than 95 percent of employers said they plan to continue to provide the same group, health and retirement benefits to their employees over the next 12 months,” said Jennifer Parmelee Witt, assistant research director, LIMRA Group Product Research. “Employees have come to rely solely on their company-sponsored benefits to provide for the health and retirement needs as there is less public assistance available. Employers understand this and are committed to sustaining them.
In the report, A Subtle Shift: Examining Employee Benefits in the Midst of Economic Uncertainty, LIMRA researchers found that only two percent of employers surveyed had dropped a group insurance, health care or retirement benefit within the last 12 months. Smaller companies (less than 100 employees) were less likely to have cut benefits than larger companies. Of those who had dropped a benefit, 25 percent eliminated their 401(k) plan, 11 percent cut their life insurance and almost ten percent had dropped their medical insurance.
When asked about the next 12 months, only three percent of employers surveyed planned to drop a group insurance, or health care benefit. Life insurance, short- and long-term disability and medical benefits were the most frequent benefits that employers planned to cut. At the same time, the trend in the market has been shifting from non-contributory (100 percent employer paid) to contributory and voluntary (100 percent employee paid).
The survey also found that eight percent of employers are actually planning to add a benefit this year, although this is down from 11 percent in 2007. Dental, vision and short- and long-term disability were the most mentioned benefits being considered.
Almost none of the employers surveyed plan to eliminate any of their retirement and savings plans within the next 12 months. Just 5 percent of employers with 401(k) matches plan to cut or suspend their matching contributions in 2009. Only five percent of companies that offer a defined benefit plan said they plan to freeze it and none of the companies indicated they would eliminate their defined benefit plan in the next twelve months.
The full report will be released in the coming weeks.
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