Offer letter

We had an employee receive their first paycheck and then inquire about the benefit deductions taken.

When the offer letter was given to them it stated their hourly wage plus the fact they would be eligible for full benefits (versus partial since they were a full-time employee). The welcome packet also included a benefit summary which lists the cost of the benefits.

The employee interpreted the term "full benefits" to mean that they would pay nothing for their benefits.

On the day the individual started, the HR Manager went through the benefit offering with them on a one-on-one basis and no questions were raised at that time.

We've been using this letter for a couple of years and haven't yet had this come up.

We're looking for advice on what others include in their letters and whether we should look to change ours.

Thanks in advance for your help!


  • 5 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • In the offer letters I put together I include the costs per payroll of the various benefits. I also include any waiting period for such benefits. When I go through the orientation information with the new EE I also go through the benefit portion and provide the SPDs, etc.

    You may want to think about adding this to the offer letter to avoid such problems in the future.
  • My first thought about the situation you describe is that the employee must be very new to this (i.e., to the workforce)?

    I briefly describe our benefits to employees interviewing for jobs here, including what portion of insurance premiums they'd be responsible for; but I don't go through all the details until their new employee orientation meeting, unless they request it.

    I would caution against putting too much in your offer letters. If your offer letter states what %age of insurance premiums are paid by EEs, and you later change (read "increase") the %age, you may have some EEs trying to claim that the offer letter represented a "contract" as to what %age they would have to pay.

    We make clear in our Personnel Policy Manual, and in our Summary of EE Benefits (which we update yearly) what EE's share of premiums will be. In my opinion this is more than sufficient. I think you just had an unusual situation with this 1 individual. If this is the 1st time the question has come up in 2 yrs, I take that as an indication that probably nothing is "broken" in the way you've been handling this up to now.

  • I don't put anything in the offer letter concerning benefits. Not much more than at will status, conditional offer and starting pay rate. Everything else I discuss in orientation unless its asked for during the interview process.
  • Just add the statement "...benefits are provided on an employee contributory basis..." to your offer letters. Its specific enough to communicate that employees pay a share of the cost, without being too specific regarding actual costs, percentages, employer contributions, etc. Should eliminate any future confusion.
  • Same here. Hind sight is most always best. We do not cover benefits in the offer letter. When we hand out benefit information on their first day, the forms clearly list any costs that the employee is resonsible to pay. HR also makes it a point to inform the new ee just how much will be deducted from their paychecks for any benefits they selected, United Way, etc... so they are not surprised when they receive their first paycheck. For someone new to the ranks of having to work for a livin' the government's FICA, is usually enough of a shock for them to absorb.
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