When you’re a mom on the lookout for a new job, it’s easy to just focus on salary when it comes to compensation, ignoring the other benefits. While the numbers on your paycheck matter a lot – and we all want them to be as high as possible – other workplace benefits can also translate into a bigger bank account, along with greater job satisfaction.
Flexibility often comes to mind first, since we want to be able to do our jobs well while also being able to attend important school events and pediatrician visits, but it’s not the only factor to consider. Here are 7 workplace perks to be on the lookout for:
- Back-up care.
While only a minority (about 4 percent) of employers currently offer this perk, it can be a lifesaver for working parents. If school is cancelled or your son has a cold, you can call a subsidized nanny to come save the day – and keep you from missing your big meetings.
- Caregiving leave.
If there might be more babies in your future, then of course you’ll want to check out the maternity leave policy. Companies vary widely on this front, with many offering no paid leave at all, and others offering up to two months or longer. But the other leave benefit to check out is caregiving leave, which allows employees to take time off to take care of an aging family member, like a parent. It’s a rare benefit but can be invaluable to those who need it.
- Volunteer credits.
Parents are often invited to help out at school – reading time, holiday parties, overseeing recess – there are lots of options. But it can be hard for working parents to get away to volunteer, unless their employer explicitly encourages it in the form of volunteer credits. Some workplaces give employees one or two days a year to spend volunteering, including at their kids’ schools.
- Sick leave that applies when your kids are sick, too.
While it might sound pretty straightforward to stay home from work when you have the flu, it can be more complicated when it’s your child who has the flu. Some employers allow workers to use their sick leave when they need to stay home to care for a sick family member – and given how often kids come down with illnesses, that can be another crucial benefit.
- Flex spending for child care expenses.
You might already be signed up with a flex spending account for your health care costs, but what about child care? Many employers offer this benefit, too, which allows you to pay for some of your child care related costs (up to $5,000 a year) on a pre-tax basis – a big savings for working parents.
- Automated deductions into college savings plans.
Just as with a retirement account, some employers make it easy to automatically direct a portion of your salary into a college savings account, too, so you can reap the tax advantages that come with them and make steady progress toward saving for that looming expense. (If you don’t have this option, then you can likely set it up through your bank account – an additional step, but for a worthy cause.)
- Retirement benefits.
While our tendency might be to put our kids first in all situations, there are some cases where we have to prioritize our own savings – and that is certainly the case when it comes to retirement savings. If your workplace offers a 401(k) or similar retirement account and matching benefits, then that can help you meet your goals for your future retirement while also meeting all of the other demands on your paycheck.
Even if these benefits aren’t obvious from your first interview, you can do some additional research to try to uncover what might be available to you. Talking to former employees or using a site like FairyGodBoss.com, which shares women-centric employee reviews, can help give you additional insight.
You have the most power to negotiate for the benefits you need, including flexibility, once you have a new job offer but before you accept it. Be sure to ask for what you want – you (and your kids) deserve it!
Kimberly Palmer is the author of the new book, “Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family.” She was the senior money editor at US News & World Report for nine years. You can connect with her at kimberly-palmer.com or on Twitter @KimberlyPalmer.