Counter a Low Salary Offer! Learn How to Negotiate Benefits in a Job Offer

Counter a Low Salary Offer! Learn How to Negotiate Benefits in a Job Offer
JobStreet content teamupdated on 27 October, 2022

Being paid what you are worth is important. But, it can also be practical to look at the bigger picture. If the high salary comes at the cost of employee benefits, such as medical insurance, decent annual leave allocation, or paid maternal leave, you may want to negotiate with your recruiter.

Beyond basic pay, you should also look closely at employee benefits. Knowing how to negotiate benefits in a job offer is vital because these benefits will not only improve your quality of life but will also help you advance your career. Alternatively, if you receive a job offer that does not match your salary expectations, you can consider asking for additional perks to compensate for the gap.

Employee Benefits Examples that You Can Negotiate

Yes, you can counter a low salary by asking for more benefits. But which ones should you ask for? It would be wise to do your research. Learn what the company usually offers, and then consider matching these to your needs.

To get started, learn how to negotiate these 10 employee benefits in a job offer.

1. Flexible working hours

The way we work continues to change. Nowadays, you can more easily find jobs that can be done outside of the regular 9-to-5 schedule.

Having flexible working hours is not just about following a specific office schedule. You can also ask for a hybrid work arrangement, where you only need to report on-site twice or thrice a week. If the employer is amenable to this, clarify how working hours are tracked from home. They may allow you to adjust your work hours based on your preference.

Negotiate for the freedom to choose your own hours each day or ask to only come in on certain days. Bring up that you are set on delivering good work and add that you can deliver well if you are given flexibility in your work hours.

2. Work-from-home allowance or office equipment subsidy

If you work remotely, ask for a monetary allowance covering your daily home costs, such as internet and electricity fees. This can be a fixed monthly amount, or the employer can place a cap on how much you can reimburse each month.

If you work in a hybrid set-up or on-site, you can ask the company to subsidise your equipment, such as a laptop or a mobile phone with a postpaid plan.

3. Allowance for professional development

If you intend to get a professional certification or enrol in training courses to upskill, ask if the company provides a learning allowance. Explain that part of your medium-term goal is to expand your skill set. Now will also be an ideal time to express your career objectives under the company.

When the employer offers a learning allowance, remember to review the terms and definitions. Some companies require employees to sign a bond that requires them to stay with the company for a certain period.

4. Comprehensive health insurance

Medical expenses can quickly add up, especially if you are past your twenties. So, you must know how to negotiate health insurance with an employer. Decent health coverage would include yearly physical check-ups, GP visits, treatments, and hospitalisation charges. Dental care and vision allowance are usually not part of health insurance, but you can try to negotiate for these if you need them. Many health insurance companies have also started adding a COVID-19 coverage plan during the pandemic. You may also discuss this with your employer if you are interested.

5. Health and fitness plan

A healthy workforce is a happy one. Ask if the company can offer a fitness plan. This may include a paid gym or meal plan subscription. You can also ask for a weekly fitness event in the office.

6. Travel allowance

Consider asking for a travel subsidy if your potential commute time to and from the office is lengthy. This can be an allowance that is reimbursable based on public transit or cab receipts, or even a petrol allowance if you drive. For those who prefer to drive, you can ask if the company can provide a car or add your vehicle to the company’s insurance policy.

7. Meal allowance

Another allowance to look into: meal allowances. Similar to a travel allowance, this can be a fixed amount included in your monthly salary or reimbursable based on your expenses.

8. More annual leave

It is not unreasonable to ask for more paid vacation time if you’re expected to work for less money than you should be getting. After all, negotiation is all about compromise. Giving you more annual leave can make up for compensation. Employees are usually given 14 paid vacation days. If your current position offers you more, you can ask the employer to match that number or give you more.

If you are getting less than the standard 14 days, you can say that since your asking compensation was not given, the employer can give you more paid leave as a counteroffer. But remember: Do some research and check the usual paid time off for the industry and the company. You do not want to ask for too much time off.

9. Paid maternity and paternity leave

Maternity and paternity leave credits vary depending on the country. In Malaysia, under the Employment (Amendment) Act 1955, expecting mothers get 98-day leave credits, while fathers get seven days of leave. Prior to the implementation of this amendment on January 1, 2023, the act granted mothers only 60 days of leave and fathers only three.

If you are anticipating a baby during this employment period, negotiate for longer parental leave. Women can push the 60-day leave to the international standard of 98 days. For men, you can ask for at least a month of paternity leave or propose that you get partially paid while on leave. Be open to the discussion that your potential employer will have.

(Read more: Maternity Leave in Malaysia: What You Need to Know )

10. Mental health leave

We all have bad days. Sometimes, the best way to shake the negative energy off is to take the day off. Mental health breaks are a benefit you can negotiate with your employer. Ask that these paid days will not be included in your sick leave credits but rather on top of them. After all, taking care of your mental well-being is just as important as resting because you’re feeling physically sick.

11. Equity or investment shares

If you are applying to a start-up or a fairly young company, ask them if you can invest in stocks or shares as part of your compensation package. But before you do this, do your research. Know the scale of the start-up and how much funding they already have. Having shares in the company can be good for the business and help you build your personal portfolio.

(Read more: 8 Must-Do’s to Nail the Art of Salary Negotiation )

Knowing how to negotiate benefits in a job offer is an important tool to have in your job-hunting kit. While you may never need to negotiate for more benefits, it’s still good to know what you can discuss with your employer to give to employees.

It’s time to #SEEKBetter work! Update your profile at JobStreet and find work with the benefits that suit your goals. Download the JobStreet app in the Google Play Store or the App Store so you can easily search for jobs whenever, wherever.

For more expert tips and advice on job hunting and salary negotiations, check out our Career Resources Hub.

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