Today's small businesses, those with fewer than 50 workers, offer their employees a wide variety of benefits. Among the most frequently offered benefits were paid time off work, with vacation and holidays available to 67 percent and 68 percent of workers, respectively. Slightly more than half of workers (51 percent) in small businesses were given the opportunity to participate in a medical plan through their company. Defined contribution plans, such as 401(k)-style plans, were available to 47 percent of workers in small businesses while access to defined benefit plans, like pension plans, was lower at 7 percent.
How much does providing benefits cost these small businesses? Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $27.72 per hour worked in December 2017 for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. About three-quarters of the total costs for compensation were wages and salaries, while the remaining quarter were the employers' costs for benefits. For example, paid leave cost employers an average of $1.61 per hour worked and made up over 5.0 percent of the total cost of compensation. Paid time off for vacation accounted for around half of employers' costs for paid leave. Costs for insurance averaged $1.75 per hour worked and made up 6.3 percent of total compensation, with nearly all of the cost ($1.66) going toward health insurance.
These data are from the National Compensation Survey — Benefits program and the Employment Cost Trends survey. To learn more, see Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2017. For definitions of the terms related to employee benefits, see the Glossary of Employee Benefit Terms.