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Burke & Morton Essay

Burke & Morton state that “smaller establishments and service-producing industries typically provide fewer benefits than larger establishments and goods-producing industries, but the extent of benefit coverage varies widely within industrial and establishment-size groupings. ” In their research they relate on the data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics 1988 Employee Benefits Survey (See Table 2). To preview the comparison it should be noted that value packages across industries vary.

Only 35 percent of workers in the service-producing industries received sickness and accident insurance in 1988, but 81 percent of these workers received paid sick leave (which recesses the demand for sickness and accident insurance). Employees in public utilities (transportation; communications; and electric, gas, and sanitary services) traditionally have more generous benefits than those in retail trade (as is seen in the Bureau’s data on employment cost levels).

It’s easy to derive that there is a direct ratio between employee value (in other words, benefits) and employer cost. For example, in 1990 the highest among any industry group cost per hour was in public utilities – $4. 71, compared to the one in retail trade – $1. 04, the lowest of any industry group (See Table 3) so the correlation can be

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observed. As for the other constituents of benefit packages, in 1988 health care coverage belonged to 95% of workers in all goods-producing industries compared to 85% in all service-producing industries.

Characteristics of medical care plans tended to be similar among the groups observed, with one significant exception: the percent of participants required to contribute toward the cost of their medical coverage varied by industry, as did the average monthly contribution. For self-only coverage, 39 percent of participants in all goods-producing industries were required to contribute, compared with 48 percent of participants in all service-producing industries. The difference was even greater for family coverage.

Fifth-eight percent of participants in all goods-producing industries were required to contribute toward the cost of family coverage, compared with 70 percent in all service-producing industries. Furthermore, workers’ average monthly contribution for family coverage in service-producing establishments was nearly $72, compared with $45 in goods-producing establishments. Defined benefit pension plans, which obligate an employer to calculate retirement benefits using a formula, were provided to roughly one-half of workers in service-producing industries and in smaller establishments.

The three types of benefit-determination formulas common among defined benefit pension plans were flat-dollar amount (a rate per year of service that is multiplied by the number of years of service to compute a monthly benefit), percent of career earnings (a percentage of each year’s per accrues toward the final benefit), and percent of terminal earnings (compute benefits by multiplying a percentage factor, such as 1.

5 percent, by years of service, uses average earnings in the final years of service, most commonly the previous 3 or 5 years; for an employee with 30 years of service and average terminal earnings of $20,000, the monthly pension benefit is $750 (1. 5 percent times 30 years times $20,000 equals $9,000 annually, or $750 monthly). ).

The first type prevailed among goods-producing establishments, thus among workers covered by collective bargaining agreements (in 1989, 23 percent of employees in goods-producing industries were represented by unions, compared with 10 percent in service-producing industries) and lacked in the service-producing sector (e. g. , $20 through 25 years build $500 pension benefit per month).

Defined contribution plans (such as savings and thrift and profit sharing plans), which “specify the contribution of the employer but do not guarantee the worker a specific benefit amount” (Burke & Morton) are still another source of retirement income and capital accumulation. These plans were equally prevalent among employees in goods-producing and service-producing establishments in 1988, but were more often provided to white-collar than to blue-collar employees, “the low incidence among blue-collar workers may be due in part to coverage by collective bargaining agreements, which typically do not include defined contribution plans.

” suggest the researchers. The incidence in the services industries, however, was lower at 32 percent. The percent of employees covered by some form of retirement plan – either a defined benefit plan, or a defined contribution plan that restricted access to funds prior to retirement age, or both, was higher in goods-producing industries and larger establishments (See Table 4)

Protection against loss of income during a short-term disability (provided through either sick leave or sickness and accident insurance, or a combination of the two, paid out of an establishment’s operating funds, though replacing a portion of the worker’s regular earnings, typically for up to 26 weeks, and usually requiring a short waiting period before benefits begin) was provided in large goods-providing industries. (See Table 5) Life insurance was provided to 96 percent of workers in the goods-producing industries, while coverage in the service-producing and services industries was 90 and 86 percent, respectively.

Life insurance benefits usually were stated as a flat dollar amount (for example, $10,000), or expressed as a multiple of earnings (such as 2 times annual salary). Nearly three-quarters of all covered workers in the service-producing industries, services, and large establishments had life insurance plans based on a multiple-of-earnings formula, while slightly under three-fifths of workers in the goods-producing industries and in the smaller establishments had such plans. Paid time off (ranging from a few minutes off for a coffee break to several weeks of vacation) was widely provided to all workers in the survey.

Personal leave, available to employees for any reason, was provided to 32 percent of workers in service-producing industries respectively to to 15 percent of all workers in goods-producing industries, and to only 9 percent of blue-collar workers within those industries. Employees in establishments that require around-the-clock staffing, such as hospitals, participated eagerly in a “leave bank” or receive “all-purpose leave. ” (these plans often combine holidays, vacation, sick leave, and other leave into one block of time off. Employees then coordinate their requests for leave so that adequate staffing in maintained.

) These data suggest that the number of paid vacation days usually increases with the worker’s length of service. Workers in the services industries receive longer vacations after fewer years of service than do their goods-producing counterparts, but the difference disappears as length of service increases. The Employee Benefits Survey also gathers information on the incidence of a number of other benefits. The survey measures the number of workers eligible for each of these benefits, whether or not employees actually use them.

For several benefits, such as inhouse infirmaries and recreation facilities, the incidence in 1988 was greater in goods-producing than in service-producing industries. In contrast, subsidized meals were found more often in the service-producing and services industries, in part as a result of practices in hotels, restaurants, and retail trade establishments. Finally, employer-subsidized child care, while not a common benefit, was more frequently available to employees in service-producing (6 percent) and service establishments (9 percent) than to those in goods-producing establishments (2 percent).

The frequency of several benefits that showed little or no variation in incidence by industry varied widely by size of employing unit, most notably travel accident insurance, adoption assistance, and wellness programs. Employee assistance programs, which provide counseling and referral services for financial, legal, substance abuse, and similar problems, were more common in both goods-producing and larger establishments. Speaking about benefits as the part of value constituent of the HR, we can’t but mention wages – as far as monetary value also affects employee-employer congruence.

It is common knowledge that for many workers and their families, “wages constitute the principal, if not the sole, source of livelihood. ” (International Labour Organisation Government Wage Policy Formulation in Developing Countries: Seven Country Studies (Geneva, International Labour Office, 1989), p. vii. ) On the other hand, wages represent an important component of total costs of production for employers, who have “the need to control production costs and remain competitive in an increasingly harsh international economic environment has become more acute. ” (ibid. )

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