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February 09, 2005
Employees See Benefits Changes

More employers are offering domestic partner benefits, healthcare deductibles are on the rise, Health Savings Accounts are more popular, and sign-on bonuses have become less common, according to BLR's 2005 Survey of Employee Benefits.

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BLR surveyed over 3,000 U.S. employers on employee benefit practices; from health care and paid-time off programs to leaves of absence.

"There are a number of startling changes in this year's results," says Susan Schoenfeld, BLR's senior compensation editor. "One of the most interesting is the increase of the number of companies offering domestic partnership benefits--only 13 percent of employers offered such benefits in 2003; in 2005 this figure increases to 19 percent for exempt employees."

Schoenfeld pointed out the newest healthcare cost management strategy: "Employers are starting to combine health deductibles with Health Savings Accounts to reduce healthcare costs. "Employers with an employee deductible of more than $1,000 increased from 18 percent in 2004 to 27 percent in 2005, as employers hope employees will take more responsibility for their own healthcare, make fewer doctor visits, and help monitor costs. HSAs help employees manage these increased deductibles through a tax-exempt trust or custodial account."

Companies offering sign-on bonuses to IT employees declined from 15 percent in 2003 to 3 percent in 2005. The drop comes as IT jobs have been outsourced to other countries and the market has softened. Sign-on bonuses for other job categories have also become less common.

Employers may obtain a free Executive Summary of BLR's 2005 Employee Benefits Survey at

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