London, 11th November 2019: 63% of companies provide additional benefits to married employees, equating to at least £2,390 in extra funding across a year in some cases.

These benefits include additional paid time off around weddings and honeymoons, celebratory gifts and greater employee contributions to health and dental plans.

According to research from Thomsons Online Benefits, which surveyed 250 UK organisations collectively responsible for over half a million employees, married workers or those in a civil partnership get considerably more out of their employer than their single – or even cohabiting – counterparts.

This is in part due to the additional paid time off that 62% of UK employers offer for getting married or entering into a civil partnership. On average, employers provide an additional 5.4 days for this – equivalent to £1,083 if an employee were to purchase this time through a holiday scheme. A further 17% of employers provide a gift as standard to mark a wedding, costing an additional £77 on average.

Family units feel the benefit too

The family units of married employees also reap rewards due to their legal status, meaning that married employees with children can end up with a significantly better deal than their single or co-habiting co-workers:

  • Organisations are 75% more likely to offer family healthcare plans to married employees over their single colleagues
  • With the employer contribution to a family healthcare plan roughly 2.5 times higher than that to an individual plan, this equates to an annual boost of £1,050 to the pay packets of married office workers
  • Companies are 42% more likely to offer married employees family dental plans, equivalent to an additional £180

Jack Curzon, Consulting Director, Thomsons Online Benefits said: “Society is evolving all the time. It’s critical that employers evolve too to recognise and support the diverse lifestyle choices that will now exist in their workplaces.

“It’s great that employers are supporting families and giving people paid time off to enjoy an important life event – but this treatment needs to be extended to all. Employers are trying to be inclusive, but they need to ensure they don’t end up discriminating against the average single person – or couples that don’t choose to get married – as a result.”

Rebalancing flexible working

Beyond additional workplace benefits, married employees also receive greater flexibility at work, with 53% of organisations offering flexible working to married employees while just 37% offer this to single people.

When asked how they would spend the additional time and financial benefits received by married employees:

  • A quarter (23%) of single office workers would dedicate additional paid time off to moving house
  • A fifth (21%) would spend it caring for a relative or friend
  • 38% would invest or save additional funding while 23% would put it towards a holiday

The view from HR

HR decision makers are aware that the balance is off when it comes to benefits for married and single people:

  • 78% of those surveyed felt it was unfair if colleagues without partners didn’t receive the same flexible benefits as those who do
  • 76% agreed that all employees should have access to personalised benefits that suit them

Jack Curzon continued: “Everybody has significant events and important people in their lives that they need to make time for. Only giving some people the flexibility to do this will breed resentment in the workforce, which can create a toxic culture.

“HR leaders are clearly aware of this discrepancy. To redress the balance, organisations must think carefully about how they collect and maintain data on employees’ personal needs and use this to create an offering that’s not just a collection of gimmicks, but something valuable and truly inclusive to all.”

“Ultimately, offering benefits that make it easier for everyone to strike a good work-life balance will create a strong and inclusive culture which employees will want to come into work for.”



About the research

Research conducted in October 2019 with 250 HR decision-makers in organisations of over 250 employees, representing 567,680 people. Additional research carried out with 2,000 UK office workers in organisations of over 250 employees, conducted in October 2019.

About Thomsons Online Benefits

Thomsons Online Benefits is a SaaS provider of global employee benefits and employee engagement software. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mercer, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth and career. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC). Thomsons’ award-winning platform, Darwin™, is the global market leader for automated employee benefits administration. With over 2 million lives on Darwin™, it connects employees with their benefits in over 100 countries and 36 languages. By using the right combination of editions, Darwin™ provides a tailored solution to meet a variety of employee benefit and reward needs, including employee engagement, managing risk, controlling costs and streamlining benefits administration. Its ability to constantly evolve and cater for shifting workforce needs has made it the provider of choice for eight of the world’s top ten technology companies. Thomsons has received 109 industry awards, including the prestigious Brandon Hall Group gold award for Best Advance in Rewards and Recognition Technology in 2015, and the latest win, Most Effective Use of Benefits Technology at the Employee Benefits Awards 2017 for our work with Bristol-Myers Squibb. Mercer and Thomsons combine world-class consulting and broking with innovative technology, driving transformation in the way that benefits are designed, communicated and administered.