SHRM Survey: How Benefits in Calif. Measure Up Nationally

More California employers offer stand-alone paid-time-off plans

Reuse Permissions

California employers are more likely than U.S. employers overall to offer paid family leave and stand-alone paid-time-off (PTO) plans, according to findings released by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). 

Every two years, SHRM takes a look at the various employee benefits offered by employers in California. On July 27, the Society released survey findings that cover 10 benefits categories and show employee benefits prevalence for California employers as compared to employers nationwide. 

A notable difference is that 35 percent of California employers have a paid family leave policy, compared to 18 percent nationally.

Thirty-four percent of employers in the state offer paid maternity leave—in addition to what is covered by short-term disability benefits or state law—and 30 percent offer paid paternity leave. This is compared to national averages of 26 percent and 21 percent, respectively. More California employers also provide paid adoption, surrogacy and foster child leave.  

Fewer California employers than U.S. employers overall provide paid personal leave.

The results are based on 385 survey responses that SHRM received from HR professionals in California. The sample was randomly selected from the Society's membership database, and the findings were compared to SHRM's 2016 employee benefits research report.

Stand-Alone PTO Plans

More than half of the U.S. organizations surveyed (51 percent) offer a PTO plan that combines sick, vacation and personal days, compared to just 38 percent of employers in California.

"We found that stand-alone PTO plans are more common in California compared with overall U.S. companies," explained Evren Esen, director of workforce analytics at SHRM. "California has multiple leave laws at the state and local level that makes it unique compared with other parts of the U.S."

California has a statewide paid-sick-leave law that generally requires employers to provide employees with three paid sick days per year. Moreover, several cities in the state have passed ordinances that provide additional paid-sick-leave benefits to local workers.

Therefore, many California employers opt to separate paid sick leave, vacation plans and other leave categories.

Health Care and Office Perks

Seventy percent of California employers surveyed offer health insurance coverage through a health maintenance organization (HMO) compared to 32 percent nationwide.

Employers in the state are also more likely to offer benefits other than health care for domestic partners.

Additionally, California organizations are more likely to provide office perks such as free snacks and onsite electronic vehicle charging stations.

Although California employers offer a variety of wellness programs, California employers rank below the national average for specific resources. For example, while 41 percent of U.S. companies offer smoking cessation programs, only 26 percent of California companies do. They are also less likely to offer weight-loss programs.

"Even though fewer California organizations offer certain types of wellness benefits, the state is on par with the U.S. overall in terms of providing wellness programs, resources and information to employees," said Tanya Mulvey, lead SHRM researcher for the study.

"Many factors can affect an employer's decision about which wellness benefits to offer, from whether these benefits are already included in the organization's health care plans, to the level of employee participation or effectiveness of existing programs."

Reuse Permissions


HR Education in a City Near You

Find a Seminar

Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You


Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies

Search & Connect