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UNDERSTAND YOUR EMPLOYEE BENEFITS; THEY ARE WORTH SIGNIFICANT DOLLARS

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Read through your employee benefits and make copious notes regarding questions you have. Then,
schedule a meeting with a senior Human Resource (HR) representative. HR will probably want to
schedule you with an entry-level HR representative. Insist on someone senior because this person
will more fully understand the benefit plan. Benefit plans can be complicated. Make sure you ask
questions until you truly understand the answers.
Benefit plans will include some or all of the following:
1. Health insurance—It would take its own book to explain health insurance. Just make
sure you fully understand your plan’s co-payments, deductibles, and coverage.
2. Vacation/personal days/sick days—Understand the requirements for each. Is a doctor’s
note needed for sick days? If you don’t use your vacation days during the existing
calendar year, do you lose the unused days or can you take them the following year?
3. Long-term and short-term disability—Are these offered and what are the terms?
4. 401K plans—I cover these in principle 58.
5. Bonus plans—Do you have such a plan and how does it work? Do you need to be
employed on the last day of the year or on the date a bonus is paid to receive it?
6. Stock options—Stock options give an employee the right to purchase shares of company
stock at a specified price during a specified period of time after the option has vested
(the time period is normally expressed in years). Options are usually offered to certain
individuals in major companies. If you are eligible for this benefit, your company will
most likely offer a seminar or detailed explanation of the stock option plan. Without
going into details on this (again, it could be a book unto itself), make sure you fully
understand the details of your stock option plan.
All of these benefits will likely be new to you. Take the time to understand them and learn about the
elements of the plan that are important for you. If you manage these benefits properly, they will
provide you with tens of thousands of dollars in benefits over the life of your career.

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