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Benefits consultants explain the various aspects of benefit packages provided by employers or administered through insurance companies and government programs. They may provide explanatory information or advice to employees, employers, or retirees on how to obtain access to benefits and how to use benefits. Veterans of military service, or victims of accidents may also be advised by benefits consultants. Typically, a benefit consultant may both educate and assist an individual or a company to access or differentiate between various benefit plans. Accident victims, and those who are seeking recompense may also seek the advice of benefits consultants.
A person's benefits may include any kind of insurance, vacation time, and paid or unpaid leave for illness, childbirth, or emergencies. As the provision of certain benefits maybe mandated by various laws, benefit consultants typically must stay abreast of regulations that may impact the provision of benefits. This may be a particularly challenging task, due to both changing laws and shifting societal mores.
One example of the latter has been increased demand for paid family leave as an expected job benefit. Demand has increased due to a change in societal attitudes over a period of time. As a result, keeping aware of new and changing expectations in workplace benefits will likely be a necessity for most benefits consultants.
Professionals who provide benefits advice usually do so as an advocate for the entity that is seeking the advice. If it is an employer, the consultant may provide the company with advice on a package of benefits that will maintain the company's competitive position. For example, if recruiting top talent is a goal of the firm, then a benefits consultant will provide information on how the company can assemble a competitive package of benefits that will help to attract and retain quality employees. If cost-cutting measures are necessary, then a benefits consultant might help the company locate a cheaper healthcare plan, for example.
Military veterans and accident victims are two groups of people that may qualify for compensation and other benefits. A consultant may work in an advocacy role, helping the victims obtain benefits that are rightfully due to them, but may be difficult to obtain, because of a complicated application process. Benefits consultants in this area are often employed by the government, charities, or are volunteers.
Attorneys helping plaintiffs who have been injured in accidents may also provide benefits consulting to their clients. Those who sell benefit plans to consumers typically provide benefits consulting from a marketing standpoint. As such, these benefits consultants are essentially sales personnel, and not true benefits consultants in the classic sense of the word.