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The Case for Legal Services and ID Theft Benefits
By: Joanne Sammer
Few things are as disruptive for employees as legal difficulties and, with growing frequency, the aftermath of identity theft. Lost time at work, and distracted minds while on the job, also lower productivity and impact the bottom line.
While only a minority of employers currently offer broad-based legal services plans or specific ID theft protection services as voluntary benefits, the rationale for doing so can be compelling.
A divorce, a lawsuit, bankruptcy or other legal issues can be expensive and distracting to employees. Around 800,000 to 900,000 couples divorce each year , according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than a million people filed for bankruptcy during the 12-month period ending March 31, 2014—just two common reasons why employees might need access to legal assistance.
Among employers with voluntary benefit programs, offering legal services is relatively common but by no means universal, with 55 percent making this option available to employees, according to a 2013 survey of 320 large U.S. employers conducted by Towers Watson.
However, among all employers, only 21 percent offer legal assistance services, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2014 Employee Benefits report.
Yet, “Many employees earn around $50,000 per year and don’t have the cash flow to pay for expensive hourly legal fees,” said Holley Maher, a partner with MRCT, an insurance, retirement and HR consulting firm in Clayton, Mo.
Like any benefit program, legal services come in all shapes and sizes, from simple referral services (which may be provided through an employee assistance program) to group legal plans offered through the workplace and funded via payroll deduction. If considering a group plan, evaluate different offerings to see which will best meet employee needs such as:
• Writing a will or a living will.
• Establishing a trust.
• Resolving traffic violations.
• Creating a health care power of attorney. • Reviewing miscellaneous legal contracts and documents.
• Handling family issues like adoption and divorce.
Beyond that, a legal services plan should have an ample number of lawyers who specialize in required services available in the geographic area where all or most employees reside.
Employers should also review what free services, if any, are offered and what services are discounted and how much. “Is the network of law firms open or closed? Are dependents eligible for the plan?” asked Maher.
ID Theft Protection
When employees have their identity stolen, criminals can use that data to open fraudulent bank and credit card accounts, obtain government benefits, and apply for employment. Here are some numbers to consider:
Leading People. Leading Organizations.
Identity theft may not require the services of a lawyer, but it can still take numerous hours for an employee to straighten out the situation. “As the use of electronic medical records and e-filing for taxes increases, so do the reports of identity theft,” said Maher.
“The biggest reasons to offer identity theft benefits are lost productivity and employee stress, which, in turn, add to medical costs,” said Heidi Rasmussen, co-owner of fresh benies, a Dallas-based employee benefits firm.
Without access to ID theft protection services, an employee could spend hours of work time trying to resolve related issues. This does not even include any general loss of productivity from an employee dealing with the stress and worry of the situation.
Moreover, Rasmussen noted, the longer an employee doesn't realize that his or her identity has been stolen, the worse the damage becomes. “It could take hundreds of hours to resolve,” she said. “It’s far better if an identity theft is found early in the process, and that’s the goal of a good identity theft protection program.”
“Considering that the Target breach affected 35 percent of the American population and the impact of the Heartbleed [online security bug] is yet to be fully seen, this is a hot topic right now,” she said.
Although some employers opt to subsidize legal services and ID theft programs, the costs of these plans are generally paid by employees. Rasmussen noted that a plan that offers both legal services and identity theft can run anywhere from $12 to $25 per employee per month.
If a vendor offers legal services and ID theft protection separately, it is important to ask for any available discounts for employees who purchase both. Bundled products may also be available.
Joanne Sammer is a New Jersey-based freelance writer.
Listen to the last 10 minutes of our certified training for HR professionals with full CE Credits. Take entire course here and request your certificate https://hr.harvardbenefits.com/290998
ID Theft and Legal Benefits for Employees are the top two benefits for absenteeism and keeping employees more productive.
According to the FTC, over 40,000 complaints per day on ID Theft alone!
In addition, the average employee spends over 600 hours or 3 months of PTO (paid time off), to fix the problem. If they don't have 3 months of PTO, then they are distracted at work and try to do this during work hours and are far less productive due to distractions.
We provide important legal and ID Theft protection with Kroll Fraud Services and Legal Shield which work perfectly together to give your employees peace of mind.
Extremely affordable at our special Group Rate of just $33.90 per month for the employee, spouse and up to 10 children!
When it comes to ID Theft, it's very important to not just have monitoring, but full time durable power of attorney to licensed fraud investigators so employees do not miss work and are not distracted.
Schedule our free lunch and learn ID Theft workshop so we can educate your employees on the latest scams, Facebook breaches, and how to protect their families.
Most employee benefits are provided in the hope that employees never use them.
Life insurance, cancer insurance, even health insurance. Nobody wants their employees to get sick, die, or be diagnosed with cancer.
SCT provides employee benefits which cover these important things, but we also have benefits which can be used every day and give employees a way to have fun and win cool prizes.
The importance of happy employees does more to contribute to higher profits than any other single factor.
Don't miss the boat with incentive packages which are only designed to cover important things.
Profits to the business are also important and SCT is the only company providing all three of these benefits inside an easy to administer payroll deduction that's very affordable for every employee.
As a thank you for simply presenting ID Theft and Legal Insurance voluntary benefits to your employees, we will give every employee a free app on behalf of the owner for simply listening!
Normally, $4.95 per month, per person, this app will not only give your employees free things all over town and discounts at over 300,000 business across the U.S., it will allow them access to win up to $1,000,000 cash with our charity golf tournaments and games.
If a hole in one is too difficult how about making a 30 ft. putt for a new car!
The app is lots of fun and organized by GEO reminders so it's easy to use. Employees will show their digital ID card and save money and have a chance to win amazing prizes!
Now that's a nice thank you and it does not matter what employees decide! A free lunch, free app, and lot's fun with chances to win!
Employees will be given a special code as a thank you from the owner for attending.
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