Voluntary or Discretionary Benefits for employees

Organizations voluntarily provide numerous benefits. These benefits may be classified as

  • Earned leave

  • payment for time not worked,

    • Surrogacy leave

    • Adoption leave

    • Menstrual leave

    • Marriage leave

  • Health and security benefits,

  • Employee services, and

  • premium pay.

  • Voluntary retirement benefit

  • Festival gifts

  • Funeral expenses

Generally speaking, such benefits are not legally required.

Although many companies continue to tighten their financial belts, when it comes to voluntary benefits, employers are much more employee focused, as opposed to cost driven. 75% of employers say their top reason for offering voluntary benefits is to expand the benefits options available to their employees, with 42% offering voluntary benefits to fulfil an employee need, and 30% offering them at their employees’ request, according to a study released yesterday by Prudential.

Earned leave:

Earned leave is mandatory for employees working in government sector but this leave is not mandatory and it is a voluntary benefit given to employees working in private and corporate sector. Irrespective of casual leaves, medical leaves and optional holidays, earned leaves can be availed by the employees for personal works. Unlike casual leaves some organisations may not grant single earned leave. If an employee wants to avail this sort of leave he/she needs to request for three or more in one stretch. in order to avail Leave under this benefit, he/she must inform controlling/superior officer in advance but in case of casual leave giving information in advance may not be necessary.

Why is it earned leave?

Unlike casual leaves, medical leaves and optional holidays, an employee can encash the unused earned leaves how many he/she has not availed or unutilized during the calendar year that is from 1st January to 31st December. But encashment of earned leaves is allowed only at the time of retirement of an employee or separation of employee other than suspension or dismissal from organization. Besides, few organizations allow to encash maximum of 300 earned leaves from total earned leaves accumulated at the time of retirement or separation of an employee, but not all unused earned leaves are allowed to encash.

Payment For Time Not Worked—In providing payment for time not worked, employers recognize that employees need time away from the job for many purposes, such as maternity and paternity leave paid vacations, payment for holidays not worked, paid sick leave, jury duty, national guard or other military reserve duty, voting time, and bereavement time. Some payments are provided for time off taken during work hours, such as rest periods, coffee breaks, lunch periods, clean-up time, and travel time.

Adobe introduced improvements to its family time-off benefits for its employees in India, to provide better support during the birth or adoption of a child. The new leave programme includes 26 weeks of paid maternity leave for the birth or adoption of a child, including time for recovery and bonding (previously 12 weeks), and two weeks of paid paternity leave for fathers to bond after the birth of adoption of a child (previously one week).

Adobe strengthens employee benefits in India, increases time for maternity and paternity leave

ET Bureau | 14 Oct, 2015,

Adobe introduced improvements to its family time-off benefits for its employees in India, to provide better support during the birth or adoption of a child. The new leave programme, which comes into immediate effect, includes 26 weeks of paid maternity leave for the birth or adoption of a child, including time for recovery and bonding (previously 12 weeks), and two weeks of paid paternity leave for fathers to bond after the birth of adoption of a child (previously one week). It provides employees with more time to spend with a new baby, we want to make it easier for them to balance their home commitments with work.


PwC India women staff can take leave up to three years for childcare

PwC India announced that it had launched a programme that allows its women employees to take leave for up to three years for childcare once during their employment with PwC. The programme, Full Circle, applies to all regular full time women employees who have been employed with PwC for two or more years, have taken a break and intend to return to PwC.

PwC intention with the launch of this programme is to put into practice the deep organisational commitment towards supporting our women employees and their personal needs. Some benefits of the programme include continuity of service throughout the programme duration, a mentor to connect with throughout the programme who will also assist in transition back to the firm, access to local firm events and functions and all PwC-related updates and continuity of all health and welfare benefits.

With this new programme, its women employees, who constitute nearly a third of our total workforce in India, will get the opportunity to stay connected with their colleagues, peers and firm even if they decide to take a break to take care for their children. As part of a number of women-centric initiatives, PwC also revised the duration of paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks (182 calendar days) from January 1, 2016.

In addition, PwC will continue to provide employees with the necessary flexibility options to establish work-life balance, the release said.


Paid Vacations

Payment for time not worked serves important compensation goals. Paid vacations provide workers with an opportunity to rest, become rejuvenated, and hopefully, become more productive.

Monster.com offers several tips to make a smooth return to work after a vacation. Leave a to-do list for teammates and colleagues; draft a to-do list for your first day back; set up appropriate phone and email messages; plan and send requests to be fulfilled while you are away; schedule an extra day off to use to prepare; keep expectations low for the first days back to work.

Italy, France, and Germany top the list of average number of vacation days per year, according to the World Tourism Organization. Italians receive an average of forty-two vacation days per year. Korea, Japan, and the U.S. are at the bottom of the list. Americans receive an average of thirteen vacation days per year.

14 companies that give their employees unlimited vacation days

Vacation policies can differ from company to company. While some companies are more stringent with how much time their employees can take off, others allow their workers to take as much time as they want or need.

According to research by the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, 25% of American workers receive no paid vacation time. Stigma surrounds taking personal time off and vacations. However, these companies are trying to change that through flexible vacation policies.

Glassdoor recently released their list of 14 companies with incredible unlimited vacation policies, among other benefits and perks.


Software development firm GitHub gives its employees ample family leave time — 4 months off for either parent — and unlimited vacation days and sick time.


Workday employees have an extremely flexible vacation policy. According to a current employee, “PTO is based on you and your manager. As long as you’re doing your job, you can take time off.” Workday’s other employee benefits include discounted backup child and elder care, dozens of onsite amenities, subsidized ride-sharing, and more.


Glassdoor’s Vacation Matters policy allows salaried employees to take as much vacation time as they need. Hourly employees receive up to three weeks of PTO. They also receive two floating holidays and one day off each quarter to volunteer at a non-profit organisation or charity of their choice.

Grant Thornton

Grant Thornton employees need only their manager’s approval to take time off, and it can be as much time as they need. Its vacation policy aims to “[put their] people first and make sure they are able to enjoy healthy balanced lives,” according to Glassdoor.


According to a current human resources manager at GE, employees can take off as much time as they would like as long as their manager approves, in a policy the company calls “permissive time.”


Employees of Kronos Incorporated get unlimited time off. One employee explains that “as long as you get your work done and your boss agrees, then time off is available for any reason.” Kronos Incorporated has also received positive Glassdoor reviews for its benefits package and 401k options.


Employees of StitchFix, a monthly clothing subscription service, enjoy perks such as unlimited vacation days, 4-month paid maternity and paternity leave, and reasonable hours.


Monetate, a software company focusing on e-commerce for online retailers, boasts unlimited PTO, paid maternity leave, stock options, and a flexible work environment.

Procore Technologies

Procore Technologies offers an open and transparent vacation policy. Its policy explains, “Procore provides value-driven paid time off. No accruals, no ‘use it or lose it’ game playing with your vacation bank, just straight up openness, ownership, and optimism.”


According to Glassdoor, CoverMyMeds offers unlimited vacation to its employees, 3 weeks of which are paid. The healthcare software company also offers leadership training, an on-site chef who serves lunch each day, and a flexible work-life balance.


Sick Leave

Each year many firms allocate, to each employee, a certain number of days of sick leave, which they can use when ill.

Facts [+]

Two of every three sick days used by U.S. workers were used for something other than illness, according to a survey by human resources information company CCH. The survey of more than 1.3 million workers found that family issues, personal needs, and stress were the rationale for taking more than half of all sick days. About 32% of sick days were actually used for personal illness

There is no federal law or mandate that requires an employer to give workers lunch breaks or rest periods, although most companies allow and encourage them. Studies have found up to 58% of American workers skip their lunch break. Health and workplace experts suggest that this practice ultimately leads to worker burnout and diminished productivity.

Menstrual leave

A digital media company in India is offering "menstrual leave" to female staff as part of its official policy and calling on authorities to legislate to give all working women the option of taking the first day of their period off work. The firm, which has 75 female workers, announced the policy in a video on YouTube . It features female employees talking the first day of their periods and reacting to the news of the company's "First Day of Period (FOP) Leave" policy.

Menstruating women and girls are considered unclean and impure and are subjected to discrimination during their periods when, for example, they may not be allowed to go to the temple, or prepare and touch certain food. In the video, which has had over 150,000 views since July 3 2017, Culture Machine's female staff talk of their experiences at work on the first day of their periods and the taboos and lack of understanding around the issue of menstruation.

"Sometimes with male bosses, you have to be a little discreet," said one female employee.

The company has also launched a petition on change.org calling on India's Minister for Women Maneka Gandhi and the Minister for Human Resources Prakash Javadekar to adopt a similar policy for all women irrespective of where they work. The petition, which has attracted over 25,000 signatures in a week, asks why menstruation be kept hidden and why women have to show up for work despite the pain and use "silly excuses".

Marriage leave ; Khaitan launches new leave policy ; Khaitan & Co is one of India’s oldest and full service law firms comprising over 530 fee earners and consultants including 115 partners and directors. The firm has introduced reinstatement of leave dependent on the number of days a member has worked for more than 7 hours a day when on planned leave.

The other changes include five days for Marriage Leave, fourteen days for Paternity Leave, and reduced work hours for three months, for mothers who rejoin the firm after Maternity Leave.

With a view to addressing the taxing schedules of corporate lawyers, the firm has introduced Recuperation Leave for firm members who do intense work on a continuous basis. Members who have completed five continuous years with the firm are also eligible for a three-month Sabbatical Leave.

Health Benefits—

Health benefits are often included as part of an employee’s indirect financial compensation. Specific areas include health, dental, and vision care.

Most Americans who have health insurance through their employer (and many who are self-insured) are enrolled in some type of a managed care plan - either an HMO or PPO. The most common types of managed care plans are health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs).

Facts [+]

Although most Americans still get their health coverage through their jobs, new research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute shows that fewer workers have access to this benefit. The report notes that the percentage of the population with employment-based health benefits is lower, most recently due to the recession, but also as part of a longer-term trend that has seen fewer workers with access to health coverage.

Fewer employers are offering health coverage to their workers. Between 1997 and 2010, the percentage of workers offered health benefits from their employers moved from 70.1% to 67.5%.

Zomato - Period (menstrual) leave

08.08.2020 : Zomato a food delivery company introduce this period leave to build a more inclusive work culture, and on a move to "foster a culture of trust, truth and acceptance", will give female employees, including transgender people, up to 10 days of "period leave" (menstrual leave) per year that is woman employee can only take one period leave for each menstrual cycle. These leaves should only be availed if you are really unable to attend to work

In case women in this situation face any unnecessary harassment, or distasteful comments from men or women about the fact that you applied for a period leave, or that you are vocal about it, please report them to speakup@zomato.com – Zomato prevention of sexual harassment (POSH) team will quickly spring into action - CEO said.

Security Benefits

Security benefits include retirement plans, disability insurance, life insurance, and supplemental unemployment benefits.

Feb 2012, WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives passed a compromise bill on Friday extending a payroll tax cut and jobless benefits through 2012, measures aimed at boosting the US economy.

The bill passed by a vote of 293 to 132 and nine abstentions, with broad support from Democrats and Republicans, after a bipartisan deal was reached to end a long and bitter fight over a key proposal by President Barack Obama. The cost of the package has been estimated at $150 billion.

The plan is expected to extend a cut in the Social Security tax rate -- from 6.2 to 4.2 per cent -- for another 10 months, and extend unemployment benefits through the end of the year. It will mean a salaried worker making $50,000 a year will be getting about $1,000 more in take-home pay over the course of the year.

  • Retirement Plans:

Private retirement plans provide income for employees who retire after reaching a certain age or having served the firm for a specific period of time. In a defined benefit plan, the employer agrees to provide a specific level of retirement income that is either a fixed dollar amount or a percentage of earnings. A defined contribution plan is a retirement plan that requires specific contributions by an employer to a retirement or savings fund established for the employee. A 401(k) plan is a defined contribution plan in which employees may defer income up to a maximum amount allowed. An employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is a defined contribution plan in which a firm makes a tax-deductible contribution of stock shares or cash to a trust.

  • Disability Protection:

Workers’ compensation protects employees from job-related accidents and illnesses. Some firms, however, provide additional protection that is more comprehensive.

  • Supplemental Unemployment Benefits (SUB): Supplemental unemployment benefits are designed to provide additional income for employees receiving unemployment benefits.

  • Life Insurance:

Group life insurance is a benefit commonly provided to protect the employee’s family in the event of his or her death. Although the cost of group life insurance is relatively low, some plans call for the employee to pay part of the premium.

  • Severance package is

A pay and benefits an employee receives when they leave employment at a company. Severance packages are most typically offered for employees who are laid off or retire. Severance pay was instituted to help protect the newly unemployed. Sometimes, they may be offered for people who resign, regardless of the circumstances; or are fired. Policies for severance packages are often found in a company's employee handbook, and in many countries are subject to strict government regulation. Typically, severance pay amounts to a week or two of pay for every year that the employee was with the company. Executives may receive a month's pay for each year of service and senior executives generally receive severance pay as outlined in the employment contract. In addition to pay, severance packages can include extended benefits, such as health insurance and outplacement assistance to help the employee secure a new position. More >>

Employee Services

Organizations offer a variety of benefits that can be termed employee services. These benefits encompass a number of areas including relocation benefits, child care, educational assistance, food services/ subsidized cafeterias, and financial services.

    • Relocation Benefits: Include shipment of household goods and temporary living expenses, covering all or a portion of the real estate costs associated with buying a new home and selling the previously occupied home.

    • Child Care: Another benefit offered by some firms is subsidized child care. Here, the firm may provide an on-site child care center, support an off-site center, or subsidize the costs of child care.

Facts [+]

The employer trend of providing on-site childcare continues as more businesses discover the positive impact child care has in attracting and retaining quality workers. Eighty-five percent of employers report that providing child care services improved employee recruitment and almost two-thirds of employers found that providing child care services reduced turnover.

  • Educational Assistance: According to a recent benefits survey, 81 percent have educational benefits that reimburse employees for college tuition and books.

  • Food Services/ Subsidized Cafeterias: Most firms that offer free or subsidized lunches feel that they get a high payback in terms of employee relations.

  • Financial Services: One financial benefit that is growing in popularity permits employees to purchase different types of insurance policies through payroll deduction.

  • Unique Benefits: A tight labour market gives birth to creativity in providing benefits.

Domestic partnership benefits

A domestic partnership is a legal or personal relationship between two individuals who live together and share a common domestic life but are neither joined by marriage nor a civil union (legally recognized form of partnership similar to marriage.). In some jurisdictions, such as Australia, New Zealand, the American states of Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and California, a domestic partnership is almost equivalent to marriage, or to other legally recognized same-sex or different-sex unions, while in other jurisdictions, domestic partnerships may confer lesser relationship rights than other jurisdictions' civil unions and more than de-facto cohabitation.

More organizations are offering benefit coverage to domestic partners. According to a recent Human Rights Campaign report, the number of companies offering domestic partnership benefits increased by nearly 13%. This trend is driven by several factors, including changing demographics, the desire to be fair, the need to diversify the workplace, and to improve employee morale.

If an employer offers domestic partnership benefits, this allows an employee to obtain for his or her partner (and sometimes their children) benefits that typically have been limited to married spouses. These can include health insurance, family leave, bereavement, relocation, tuition waiver, etc., and vary from employer to employer. Such benefits are not transferable from job to job; if a given employer offers domestic partnership benefits, they are offered as specific terms of employment. If you leave your job, you also leave the benefits.

Voluntary retirement benefit

When a company realizes that it needs to downsize its scale of operations, its first task is to examine alternatives to layoffs. One of the most popular of these methods is early or Voluntary retirement.

In case of voluntary retirement the normal retirement benefits are calculated and paid to all such employees who put in a minimum qualifying service Sometimes the employer may encourage the employees to retire voluntarily with a view to reduce surplus staff and cut down labour costs. Attractive compensation benefits are generally in built in all such plans (referred to as golden handshake scheme). To reduce post retirement anxieties companies these days organize counselling sessions, and offer investment related services (e.g. Citibank , Bank of America) Some companies extend medical and insurance benefits to the retirees also e.g. Indian Oil corporation. More >>

Facts [+]

To reduce its excess and non-performing employees, state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has come up with a sweetened separation package. ONGC's new voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) offers lucrative medical benefits without any cost to employees. It will be available until the first week of July. Its previous VRS scheme did not provide free medical support after retirement. In the past six years, barely 476 people opted for VRS.

ONGC's more than 33,200 employees produce 26.92 million tonnes of oil a year. In comparison, 1,450 employees at Cairn India produce 10 million tonnes a year. At Cairn India's level of productivity, ONGC would be able to do its job with less than 4,000 people, although the state-run firm says it is not a fair comparison because ONGC is an integrated energy company.

Premium Pay

Compensation paid to employees for working long periods of time or working under dangerous or undesirable conditions.

  • Hazard pay: Additional pay provided to employees who work under extremely dangerous conditions.

  • Shift differentials: Paid to employees for the inconvenience of working undesirable hours.

Festival gifts

Especially India is the land of many Hindu festivals, art which Diwali festival is very special and well celebrated festival by almost all Indians as Diwali stands for victory of good or evil. On this auspicious day many organisations give gifts to their employees so as to boost the morale of employees and to motivate them.

The diamond trader and the owner of Shri Hari Krishna Exports has gifted 600 cars as Diwali bonus to his employees. Here we have compiled all cars gifted by Savji to his employees till date.

Savji Dholakia, the renowned diamond trader from Gujarat is into the headlines once again for an obvious reason. The owner of Shri Hari Krishna Exports has gifted 600 cars to his employees on the occasion of Diwali. This is not the first time that Savji has gifted such a massive Diwali bonus to his employees. The Gujarat businessman started appearing in the news and gathering attention since the year 2016. Savji says that he loves gifting cars to his employees and by getting such a gift, an employee feels motivated and at the same time, feels a lot more confident and looks for a long association with the company. Here is what all cars Savji has gifted to his employees till date and how many employees have got lucky till date.

Renault Kwid and Maruti Suzuki Celerio

This Diwali, Savji Dholakia has gifted 600 cars to his employees as Diwali bonus. 1,500 employees have been selected under the loyalty programme by the company out of which 600 have opted for cars while 900 will be handed over fixed deposit certificates. Dholakia said that for the first time, the employees of his company will be receiving certificates and car keys from the hands of the PM. According to Dholakiya, the company will pay gifts worth close to Rs 50 crore under the loyalty programme this year.

Mercedes-Benz GLS 350d

Last month, Dholakia gifted three Mercedes-Benz GLS SUVs to his employees upon their completion of 25 years of association with the company. The on road price of the Mercedes Benz GLS SUV in Surat is presently close to Rs 1 crore. The Mercedes-Benz GLS 350d gifted by Savji Dholakia to his employees.

Datsun redi-GO

Savji Dholakia gifted 1200 units of the Datsun redi-GO cars to his employees out of which 650 cars were delivered by Datsun on a single day. The brand new cars were gifted to those employees who had not received any incentives in the past year. However, there is a catch to it. All cars were purchased on down payment by the company with a five year EMI plan that was to be fulfilled by the company. In case an employee parts ways with the company, the remaining EMIs was to be submitted by him. The Datsun redi-GO was also a part of the 1260 cars that Savji gifted to his employees on Diwali in 2016.

Maruti Suzuki Alto

Savji Dholakiya gifted 1260 cars to his employees on Diwali 2016 and the Maruti Suzuki Alto constituted the major part of the fleet. Apart from gifting 1260 cars, the business tycoon also 400 flats to his employees as Diwali bonus. The company had revealed that it has offered Diwali bonus worth Rs 51 crores to the employees in the said year.

Fiat Punto

On the occasion of Diwali in the year 2014, Savji Dholakiya gifted 500 Fiat Punto cars to his employees. A total of close to 1200 employees were selected under the loyalty programme under which they were asked to choose between a brand new car, jewellery and a flat. While gifting Diwali bonus to his workers, Savji that all his dreams have come true through his workers. He also added that his company is the first in the world to offer Rs 3.60 lakh worth incentives to each of 1200 diamond workers.


Funeral expenses-

In case if an employee demise (if death occurs while doing work in the factory premises or in the course of employment, such cases attracts Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923, however payment of the expenditure towards funeral is mandatory according to the section 4(4) ) i.e. Rs.5000/- according to the amendment in the year 2009) most of the organisations pay funeral expenses to their family members to meet expenditure towards Cremation or burial of an deceased employee which depends on their religious customs and traditions. If a deceased employee is a member of trade union under the Trade union Act 1926, the deceased employee's family members can approach office bearers of that trade union according section 15 of the Trade union Act 1926, for requesting funeral expenses or religious ceremonies of the deceased employee.