A benefits specialist is in charge of a company's employee benefits. This specialist works with a company, its employees, governments and healthcare providers — and also may deal with the public — to get the best benefits packages. Benefits specialists must keep up with changing federal and state regulations. These specialists also may be involved in negotiations such as those between unions and companies.
The employee benefits that a benefits specialist handles are usually health or pension benefits. Pension plans could be a savings plan, profit sharing plan or stock ownership plan. Health benefits include employee wellness and assistance programs, dental and medical insurance, life insurance, and long-term care insurance. A specialist researches employee benefits and health and safety practices by talking to other companies and groups such as insurance brokers. The specialist then recommends to the company any modifications or changes to current policies.
There are many things a benefits specialist does for a company. Cost and job analyses and reports are two functions of the benefits specialist. Writing job descriptions, classifying the jobs, and deciding salaries for workers also are part of the specialist's duties. He or she may be in charge of preparing and maintaining employee handbooks and personnel records.
A benefits specialist researches job and worker requirements and develops the materials and curricula that will be used for employee training programs. To help develop training and other programs, he or she may observe employees as they work, do interviews or conduct surveys. Specialists may lead programs to educate employees about compensation and benefits. They also can offer advice about company policies and procedures in regards to employee benefits.
Benefits specialists sometimes work with the public. They may gather research to publish films, books, journals or manuals. These publications may be used to provide the public with more information about the company. The publications also can be used for training employees.
It is necessary for a benefits specialist to have strong skills in problem solving. Specialists may be liaisons or consultants between businesses, the government and unions. Benefits specialists offer advice about resolving complaints dealing with things such as salaries and benefits. They may negotiate collective agreements on behalf of the employers or workers.
It is important for benefits specialists to stay on top of any federal and state regulations or legislation, because these can change rapidly. Benefits specialists ensure that companies are compliant with state and federal regulations and file reports properly. In the U.S., they also may work with the U.S. Department of Labor and encourage employers to use it. Programs for personnel and labor relations are designed by benefits specialists to fulfill regulations with larger programs such as affirmative action.