Access to employer-provided benefits was greater in medium and large private industry establishments than in small establishments in March 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Access, or availability of a benefit, was 57% for medical care in small establishments (those with fewer than 100 employees), compared with 89% in large establishments (those with 500 employees or more). In private industry, retirement benefits were available to 50% of workers in small establishments, 79% of workers in medium size establishments (those employing between 100 and 499 workers), and 86% of workers in large establishments.

Paid-leave benefits followed a similar pattern. The difference was more pronounced in the availability of paid sick leave, which was offered to 52% of workers in small establishments and 82% in large establishments. Paid holidays and paid vacation were available to 69% of workers in small establishments and 91% and 90%, respectively, to workers in large establishments.

These data are from the National Compensation Survey (NCS), an annual survey of employers that provides comprehensive measures of compensation cost trends and incidence and provisions of employee benefit plans.

Employee and employer shares of medical premiums did not vary significantly by establishment size for single coverage, but did for family coverage. On average, small establishments assumed 63% of the cost of family coverage, whereas large establishments paid for 77% of the cost of family medical plans.

Additional findings include:

  • In private industry, access to benefits varied by several worker and establishment characteristics, including occupational group and work schedule. Medical care benefits were offered to 41% of workers in service occupations and 87% of workers in management, professional and related occupations. These benefits were offered to 24% of part-time workers and 86% of full-time workers.
  • In state and local government, full- and part-time status was an important factor in benefit access among workers. Full-time workers in state and local government had a high rate of access to employer-provided benefits. Retirement and medical benefits were offered to 99% of full-time workers and paid sick leave to 98%.
  • Participation and take-up rates were typically higher in state and local government than in private industry. For example, 84% of state and local government workers participated in retirement benefits, compared with 48% of private industry workers. For retirement benefits, the take-up rate was 95% for state and local government workers, compared with only 75% for private industry workers. Employees were considered participating in a plan if they paid any required contributions and fulfilled any applicable service requirements. Take-up rates are the percentage of workers with access to a plan that participate in the plan.

State and local government employers paid a greater share of medical premiums than private industry employers. For single coverage, 87% of the total premium was assumed by employers in state and local governments, compared with 79% in private industry. For family premiums, the corresponding figures were 71% and 68%, respectively.

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