WORKERS could be missing out on hundreds of pounds of freebies and benefits by not asking their employer.
Many workplaces offer tax benefits and breaks that you may not even be aware of.
Inflation has hit a 30-year high, driving up the price of everything from energy bills to groceries.
Britons are facing a brutal cost of living crisis, which is pushing some households to the brink.
And millions are being pushed out of poverty from April, when a National Insurance tax hike takes effect, adding hundreds to the tax bill of working people.
On top of that, the government is freezing income tax brackets, which effectively means a pay cut for millions of workers.
It is therefore essential that employees ensure that they take maximum advantage of the work benefits available to them.
Rob Marshall, product manager at benefits platform WorkLife by OpenMoney, says now is the time to see what support is available for your job.
Here are five questions to ask.
Wage sacrifice and interest-free loans
You could save hundreds of dollars on the cost of your commute by taking advantage of workplace programs.
If you take the train to work, many companies offer a subscription loan for your train pass.
Your employer provides the upfront cost of the annual subscription, which saves you money because it’s much cheaper than buying monthly or daily subscriptions.
You then repay the loan in monthly installments through your salary.
With train tickets set to increase next month, this could save you hundreds of dollars on your commute.
Rob says: “Not only would this help with budgeting, but it would also bring the added benefit of the cheaper fare that comes with paying for an annual trip.”
If you prefer to do some exercise before office hours, ask if there is a work cycle program.
Thanks to this, you can get money for a new bike through your employer and, similarly to the train ticket, repay the money in monthly installments through your salary.
And wage sacrifice programs might even help you buy an electric vehicle.
Wage sacrifice is giving up some salary to save on income tax and VAT in exchange for a non-monetary benefit such as work-cycling programs, training, or company cars.
Other non-taxable benefits
Competition for staff is fierce right now, and many companies are upping the ante to keep employees and attract new ones.
It could mean that the benefits on offer have gotten better – or that they’ve always been there and you just didn’t know about them.
Non-taxable benefits can include a mobile phone, childcare vouchers or social counseling, for example.
And since working from home is now the norm for many people, it’s likely that you can recoup some costs.
Rob says, “Employers can provide money for basic costs, including broadband and home office furniture, tax-free.”
If you work from home, you might also qualify for a tax refund – and there’s not long left to apply this tax year.
Cash plan allocations
Cash plans are a way for companies to help their staff save on common healthcare costs, and many people aren’t aware of them.
Rob recommends asking your line manager or the human resources department for information on what’s available.
Cash plans can save you money on routine eye tests, dental checkups, and the cost of glasses or contact lenses.
Rob says, “Ask what’s covered and how to make a claim.
“Cash-flow plans are often overlooked but could save eligible workers significant sums, depending on their level of coverage.”
Retail and discount programs
You may not realize that you can save money on everyday purchases and subscriptions through your workplace.
“Retail discounts are one of the most common employee benefits and can make a real difference if someone is struggling financially,” says Rob.
Some employers offer coupons or codes for things like home or car insurance, and you can also get a cheap gym membership.
Other workplaces may have agreements for staff discounts with local businesses, or offer access to online fitness classes or equipment, Rob said.
He adds, “These don’t always get high profile, so it’s worth talking to your HR department to find out what savings you might be entitled to.”
Also check your contract, as you might have insurance through your workplace that you didn’t even know was in place.
Some companies offer an in-service death benefit, which pays a multiple of your salary to your next of kin if you die.
Other companies may provide health insurance and may also provide it for your family.
More employees may find it relevant after two years of lockdown, which has made vacationing difficult.
Many companies will allow you to resell your annual leave if you don’t use it all.
This can be an easy way to boost your take home pay if you find yourself with vacation days to take at the end of the year.
Not all workplaces offer this – many employers want their staff to take regular leave to ensure they are well rested.
Others may allow you to resell on certain days, but only up to a certain number, so be sure to check the details.
Rob says, “But if you find yourself using vacation days for fun, it’s worth asking.”
On the other hand, some companies will allow you to buy extra annual leave – which is worth asking if you really enjoy vacations or need extra time for childcare, for example. example.
Meanwhile, some companies are shaking things up by introducing four-day weeks – here’s the full list.
And companies have offered sign-up bonuses to attract new employees in times of shortage.
In addition, you can increase your pension by taking advantage of employer contributions.
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