Navigating employee benefits in India is critical for the U.S.-based companies aiming to secure and nurture talent overseas. India’s job market is unique, where tradition and modern work values merge. For employees, job stability and benefits often weigh as much as the salary. The younger crowd is shifting gears, valuing work-life balance and job satisfaction, too.
This guide provides a concise overview of the employee benefits landscape in India and how leveraging an EOR can streamline the benefits administration for your international team members.
Understanding the Indian Employment Landscape
- Legally, it’s a maze. India’s employment laws are varied and detailed, covering everything from retirement funds to health insurance. These aren't just guidelines; they're must-follow rules that change from state to state.
- When you’re vying for India’s best minds, the benefits you offer are your ace card. They're not just perks; they signal that you care about your employees' health, future, and daily life, which matters in making them stick around.
- Knowing the cultural expectations and legal rules is key, but it's tricky. That’s where an Employer of Record steps in, helping U.S. companies craft a benefits package that’s spot on for Indian employees—keeping you compliant and making you the employer everyone wants to work for.
Mandatory Employee Benefits in India
In India, companies are legally required to provide certain benefits to their employees. These mandatory benefits are designed to offer workers financial security during their employment and into their retirement. Here's a closer look at each:
1. Statutory Benefits
Provident Fund (PF):
The Provident Fund is a government-mandated retirement savings scheme where employees contribute a portion of their salary, and employers must match this contribution.
This fund is accessible to employees upon retirement or under certain conditions such as buying a home or funding medical treatments.
- For instance, the current rate is typically 12% of the basic salary and dearness allowance, which is contributed by both the employee and employer.
Employees' State Insurance (ESI):
The ESI provides health insurance and medical benefits to employees earning up to a certain limit, which is periodically revised.
It covers medical expenses, disability benefits, and maternity leave, offering employees a safety net against health-related financial burdens.
- Contributions are made both by the employer (around 3.25% of the wages) and the employee (0.75% of the wages).
Gratuity is a lump-sum payment made to employees who have been in continuous service for five years or more with the same employer.
It's a gesture of gratitude, calculated based on the last drawn salary and the number of years of service.
- For example, an employee is typically entitled to half a month's salary for every full year of service.
National Pension Scheme (NPS):
The NPS is a voluntary long-term retirement savings account aimed at effectively providing for post-retirement life.
While it's optional for employees, employers who offer NPS benefit from tax incentives.
Contributions can be flexibly managed, and upon retirement, individuals can withdraw a lump sum and receive the remaining as annuity payments.
Learn more about statutory benefits of employees in our guide to Payroll Compliance in India.
2. Leave Entitlements
In India, employees are typically entitled to a minimum of 12 to 18 days of paid annual leave, depending on the state laws and the company's policy.
- For instance, the Shops and Establishments Act of Karnataka stipulates 18 days of earned leave per year, whereas in Maharashtra, under the same act, the entitlement is 21 days.
Some companies offer more generous leave policies as part of their benefits package to attract top talent.
Sick leave entitlement can vary, but generally, employees can avail around 10-15 days per year as per the discretion of the employer and state regulations.
- The Delhi Shops and Establishments Act, for instance, grants up to 12 days of sick leave annually, whereas Tamil Nadu’s equivalent act allows for 12 days.
Certain sectors, like the manufacturing sector under the Factories Act, have their own set stipulations, which might differ from state-specific acts.
Maternity leave in India is governed by the Maternity Benefit Act, which provides for 26 weeks of paid leave for women for the first two children and 12 weeks for the third child.
- For example, a woman working in Telangana or Punjab would receive the same maternity benefits, as this is a central law applicable across all states.
Some companies may choose to offer additional benefits like flexible working hours upon return to work.
Paternity leave is not mandated by federal law and is left to the discretion of individual employers.
Certain progressive companies and government entities provide paternity leave ranging from 15 days to a month.
- For example, some IT companies in Bangalore offer up to 15 days of paternity leave, while central government employees are entitled to 15 days of paid paternity leave.
It's essential to note that the provision of leave is subject to the rules of the specific state’s Shops and Establishments Act, or the national laws in the case of maternity leave.
3. Working Hours and Overtime
Standard Work Hours:
The standard work hours in India are typically 9 hours a day, with a 48-hour workweek being the norm across various sectors.
However, these hours can vary based on the applicable state laws. IT and technology companies often adopt a 5-day workweek, summing up to 45 hours, including lunch breaks.
- For example, under the Shops and Establishments Act, the state of West Bengal allows a standard workweek of 54 hours, while Andhra Pradesh permits 48 hours.
Overtime is paid at double the rate of regular pay as per the Factories Act, which is a common baseline, even though specific rates may differ by state legislation.
- For instance, in Maharashtra, overtime work is calculated on a basis of excess hours worked beyond the 9-hour workday or 48-hour workweek and must be compensated at twice the ordinary rate of wages.
- In Tamil Nadu, any work done beyond 48 hours in a week is considered overtime and is eligible for double the regular wage rateThe nuances of overtime compensation can get complex because they depend on the nature of the industry, the category of the worker, and the specific state legislation. A retail employee in Delhi might be entitled to a different overtime structure compared to a factory worker in Gujarat, even within the same company.
Moreover, some states have special provisions for certain types of employees, such as those in supervisory or managerial positions, who may not be eligible for overtime in the same way as other employees.
An Example of a Payslip in India:
Supplementary Employee Benefits in India
Supplementary benefits can distinguish a company as an employer of choice in India's competitive talent market. These benefits are not mandated by law but are offered by employers to attract and retain high-quality employees.
- While the Employees' State Insurance (ESI) scheme provides basic health coverage, many employers offer additional health insurance to provide more comprehensive medical benefits.
- Companies may offer private health insurance plans that cover a wider range of medical treatments, including those at private hospitals, and may extend to dependents of the employees.
For example, a tech startup in Bangalore might provide its employees with health insurance that covers advanced medical treatments and wellness programs that go beyond the ESI's scope.
- Superannuation funds are a form of retirement benefit offered by some companies, serving as a pension program to which both the employer and employee contribute.
- Employees may also choose to make voluntary contributions to their Provident Fund (PF) accounts over and above the mandatory 12% of their salary, which can significantly enhance their retirement savings.
An IT firm in Hyderabad, for example, might offer a superannuation fund that matches employee contributions up to a certain percentage as a way to secure their post-retirement life.
- Bonuses are a common form of performance-based incentive, with many companies offering annual or quarterly bonuses based on the company’s and individual's performance.
- Stock options are another incentive, particularly prevalent in startups and multinational corporations, where employees are given the option to buy company stock at a reduced price.
A multinational corporation in Mumbai may offer its employees stock options after a certain period of employment, incentivizing them to contribute to the company's long-term success.
Flexible working hours allow employees to start and end their day at times that suit them better, which can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction.
Remote work policies have become increasingly popular, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, with companies offering full or partial remote work options.
Offering such supplementary benefits can greatly enhance an employer's attractiveness, particularly to the top-tier talent in India who may have multiple employment options.
1.Perks of Working for Amazon India
- Comprehensive mental health support
- Pediatric mental health support
- Exclusive discounts with Amazon Extras
- Holistic wellness with Svasthya
- Support for new parents
Amazon offers a supportive work environment with unique benefits that extend beyond the norm. Its comprehensive mental health support includes an Employee Assistance Program that provides confidential counseling and resources, such as the Twill Therapeutics platform for 24/7 mental health tools. Children of employees also benefit from specialized pediatric mental health services.
Additionally, Amazon's 'Amazon Extras' gives employees access to exclusive discounts on health and wellness apps and services, while the 'Svasthya' initiative offers holistic wellness programs focused on emotional, physical, and financial health. The 'Ramp Back' program offers birth parents eight consecutive weeks of flexibility and partial work hours as they readjust to work schedules as new parents, demonstrating Amazon's commitment to the well-being of its workforce and their families.
2.Perks of Working for Swiggy India
With a diverse regulatory landscape, understanding localized benefits is not just about legal compliance—it’s about building a motivated and stable workforce. Employers that partner with an Employer of Record can effectively structure and manage these benefits, ensuring they are tailored to the needs and expectations of the Indian workforce while also aligning with the company's global policies.
An Employer of Record (EOR), like Wisemonk, can simplify this complexity. By managing mandatory and supplementary benefit schemes, an EOR becomes your on-ground partner, ensuring your employment practices in India align with local norms and laws, freeing you to concentrate on core business functions.
Leave the hassle of entity establishment and focus on what you do best—running your business. Reach out to us, and we will be happy to assist you.