If you restrict this benefit to those who have been with the company for at least two or three years and make the reimbursement contingent upon the employees staying with the company for at least three to five years after completing their academic work, this can be a very wise benefit to offer. However, unexpected factors and events often come into play and you’ll need to carefully draft a written policy to help you administer the program judiciously.
During the most recent economic downturn, this was the employee benefit that was often cut first in an effort to avoid layoffs. While that’s fully understandable, your company should seriously consider reinstating it now since some employees are almost just as interested in it as they are healthcare benefits and a 401(k) plan. Furthermore, a tuition reimbursement program offers your company the chance to benefit from employees gaining added knowledge that they can readily put to good use in their jobs while they’re completing their programs.
When creating or reinstating this type of program, always keep in mind the following information.
Factors to Bear in Mind When Offering a Tuition Reimbursement Benefit
- Decide what percentage of the employee’s tuition and other related expenses your company is willing to underwrite. Some companies still cover as much as 90% of these types of expenses;
- Decide what types of degrees (or groups of classes) you’re willing to cover for your employees. While some companies are willing to pay for a large portion of an entire B.A. or B.S. degree (and sometimes a graduate-level program), others are very circumspect and will only reimburse employees for coursework directly related to their current jobs. In general, “the degree should help the employee ‘perform better’ in some capacity.” This is a fair standard since you’re still risking that the employee may not stay for a long time after completing the education;
- Give very serious thought to trying reimbursement to the employee’s GPA. You have every right to only reimburse employees when they’re putting forth their best efforts. If you choose, you can require an “A,” “B,” or “C” average on all courses taken;
- You can dictate how many classes an employee can take each quarter or semester and whether or not they must take them at night or during the day. Given the fact that offering to pay for this type of benefit is usually a very generous gift to an employee, you have every right to impose these types of restrictions on them so they’ll still get their work done properly;
- If nothing else, at least consider offering reimbursement to employees seeking new professional training and certifications in their field. For example, cybersecurity employees can work toward a number of useful certifications that can enhance their skills as employees. So, if covering the costs of an entire academic degree seem too high to your company, try to at least cover the expenses tied to these types of programs;
- Be prepared to respond to employee requests to leave your company prior to the time period required for receiving full tuition reimbursement. Obviously, family issues can arise that can require someone to move elsewhere. Be aware that your employees may bring up many different types of waiver requests. It would be wise to ask your Peachtree City business lawyer to restrict full reimbursement to carefully described circumstances.
To obtain help with handling all of your Georgia business planning needs, please contact Shane Smith Law today. You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.