Support each stage of your professional life with our guide to insurance policies, pension funds and investment plans. From taking advantage of career progression opportunities and ultimately preparing for retirement, each part looks at how you can ensure your financial and physical well-being every step of the way.

Read this first section to ensure your first job gets off to the best possible start, as we explore workplace benefits and what to look for in an employment contract.

The importance of employee benefits

You’ve finished your education and are ready to embark on your career [opportunity to link to the existing article 4 steps to achieve your career ambitions], and while it’s tempting to get swept up in the excitement, it’s important to understand what employee benefits are available to you before accepting any job offers. This means provisions that fall outside of an employee’s salary, which can include insurance cover and pension contributions, as well as travel allowances. Some of these provisions can even extend to wellness programs and workplace perks such as recreational activities, subsidized meals, or flexible hours.

Employers frequently offer these ‘extras’ in order to attract talent to their organization, and research reveals today’s young recruits are more motivated by benefits than ever. According to a report1 referencing a recent LinkedIn study, 77% of companies have been working on their policies - getting more creative, developing new careers and offering flexible benefits such as remote working - to attract the new workforce.

Understand how your employer plans to protect you

Most companies in India are part of the Employee Provident Fund scheme, even though it isn't mandatory. This is a government-backed and -operated pension scheme that is both tax-deductible on investment and tax-free on maturity. Under this scheme, your employer deducts a portion of your basic salary each month (8-12%) and adds another 12%, before investing the entire amount into the EPF scheme. This investment matures on retirement, though there are exceptions under which you can access a portion of the funds sooner.

Another popular employee benefit is health insurance – it is important to understand the details of your company's health insurance plan. You should know the amount for which you're covered and whether it covers other family members. Most employers do offer health plans that insure the employee's parents and family as well.

Some employers give employees the opportunity to join a workplace insurance scheme. However, if this option isn’t available to you, a personal health insurance policy can ensure you're covered should you develop a condition that requires medical treatment and need to take an extended period of time off work.

You can find out what benefits a potential employer offers by checking the job description, requesting to speak to the HR department, looking on the company website and reading through your employee contract.

Make sure you understand your employment contract

You’ve been offered your dream job, but before you sign anything, now’s the time to go through your contract in order to fully understand your employment-related rights. Here are the key questions to ask:

What annual leave am I entitled to?

This is usually accrued as you work and most countries have a statutory minimum amount of paid holiday that employees are entitled to each year – for example, full-time workers in India are legally entitled to at least 15 days.

What happens if I need to take time off?

Find out what sick leave you are entitled to, and how you go about claiming sick leave if you are unwell for a prolonged period of time. In addition, ask about the company’s compassionate leave (in the event of someone close to you passing away or suffering a serious illness or accident) and parental leave policies.

What is the notice period?

You don’t want to think about leaving just yet, but it’s worth finding out for future reference should you decide it’s time for a change.

Is flexible working or working from home allowed?

Understanding these requirements from the outset will help you understand what an average week might look like – for example – will you need to factor in time to commute, and will you be able to fit personal hobbies and activities around your work commitments??

Whatever stage of your career you are at, finding out what you are entitled to might help influence your decision, in addition to giving you the opportunity to negotiate on the package you receive.

And remember, it’s never too early to lay down the foundations for your financial future. In addition to good career choices, sound investments such as Future Generali Money Back Super Plan (a savings life insurance plan which offers guaranteed money backs at defined intervals along with the benefit of a life insurance cover) can also help you reach your financial goals.