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I started a new job a couple months ago. The first few months were training where we sat in a classroom with the same instructor each day. The company provides many employee benefits, including medical, dental, vision, and share options, and more.

The benefits are extremely customizable and the system to apply is complex. Employees must login to a website and make a selection to each option before any changes will be applied (so for example you can't just choose how much coverage you want for medication, you have to do everything, including employee shares options). This can only be changed once a year.

This was never made clear to us but there was a deadline to set it up before we got the default package. Now I have the default options which don't suit my needs. I found out because I was almost done the enrolement, with just the last part to go, but couldn't log in to the website the other day. I asked the instructor if there was a deadline we had to apply before and he basically said "I don't know". I contacted HR today and they said there was a deadline and I missed it.

I find this really unfair for several reasons

  1. I was never told their was a deadline
  2. I didn't receive my login credentials for the first several weeks
  3. The instructor actually told the class to wait on doing it as he wanted to explain some options to us, which he never did.

What are my options? What is the best course of actions to get on of my benefits changed? I could have done this all really quickly except they wanted us to make decisions about employee stock in the same application form and I needed more time to research that.

UPDATE: HR got back to me and gave an extension :)

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    Did you explain your reasons to HR? What did they say? – DJClayworth Jul 4 '17 at 18:57
  • It's tough when this sort of thing happens. It is easy for this to happen in relation to health benefits in the USA. I fear the bottom line is you are out of luck. :/ the fact that you assert you "weren't told" - unfortunately nobody will care about that. You would have been told somewhere in the fine print, and that's that unfortunately :/ – Fattie Jul 5 '17 at 9:56
  • When I called HR and told them what happened they basically said "we'll get back to you in a few days". This really sucks because most benefits are higher than I need, so they take more off my pay check, and the one I actually needed highest isn't. – plants1234 Jul 5 '17 at 11:12
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    I don't know if you'll be able to change your benefits at this point but I think it's still worth following through on because they need to fix their system. The due date should be clearly and boldly stated in the site being used to sign up for benefits and their trainers need to be aware of due dates. If you can convince them to fix it then you can at least spare future employees from encountering this issue. – BSMP Jul 5 '17 at 14:36
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The most you can do is talk to HR about it. You can possibly also CC in your manager, in that they may care more about your satisfaction with your benefits and might fight on your behalf.

I'd opt for using email to make sure there's a record of it (in case it comes up at a later stage).

State the reasons for not making the deadline and how the changes you'd like would affect you financially.

Given that HR said they'll get back to you (which they may not), you can opt for a modified version of the below, where you say some variation of "I'm still waiting to hear from you regarding this".

I would just like to follow up on my earlier request to change my benefits.

I have been made aware that the deadline has passed, but:

  • My training instructor specifically told us to avoid selecting my benefits until he explained some options, which he never did.
  • I was never told about this deadline, despite specifically asking the instructor whether there was one.

I accepted the role under the assumption of having access to some of these benefits and not having them may require significant out-of-pocket spending for the next year on my part. Not only that, but I will also be forced to spend a significant part of my paycheck on benefits I do not want and have no use for.

So is there any way for me to change my benefits at this stage?

(You can remove "I accepted the role under the assumption..." if that's not true)

If this email is ignored, you can have a followup call, meeting or drop-in visit with someone from HR to discuss this. Make sure there's an email followup of any agreements made (e.g. "as discussed, I will be waiting to hear from you about..."). You can also talk to your manager about it.

The company may have contracts with providers for which they need to provide the options for each employee before a specific deadline, so this may be a futile attempt. Although the company may also be willing and able to make an exception given the details of your situation.


All of this is based on the assumption that the employer isn't legally required to provide benefits you're not currently getting or to provide you with a choice you didn't get. If there is a legal argument here, opting for a more strongly worded version of the above might be enough, although I wouldn't be able to comment on the legal process to follow after that.

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You are the ones who the benefits are for. That means you care the most. Continuously pester people responsible for the benefits until you get a firm solid reply. You may be out of luck, but they need to 100% define it for you. There are often correction periods in which case you can hit that window, but as you weren't clearly notified before don't expect to get a heads up on that either. You can also call the insurance company directly and they can help define the dates and options for you in which you can then work with HR on that.

Good luck, and remember this is your benefits the company offers and not the company benefits that you participate in. The law is they offer it, that's it, the rest you will likely have to investigate and fight for if they don't have good systems in place. I've worked somewhere that there was literally only 1 option so you either get it or not. Flexibility and options are a perk, not a right. Sorry you missed the date, that sucks, hope you can find a way to correct it, otherwise there is always next year to prep for the renewal.

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