What are your unique workplace benefits?
July 11, 2019 6:41 AM   Subscribe

Do you get any unusual benefits as part of your employment? Like, they give you a pet boarding allowance if you need to travel for work or once a month you get X amount of product you can take home?
posted by Twicketface to Work & Money (73 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
My university benefits are pretty standard, but yesterday I was talking to a colleague who spoke fondly of when he had worked for Men's Wearhouse and their vacation policy had included that once every five(?) years you would automatically get double the vacation so you could take a BIG chunk of vacation/sabbatical-type leave. I'm very jealous of Past Him.
posted by Stacey at 7:02 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]

Some of the more interesting/generous ones that my company offers:
-We can join the local university gym and credit union
-We can take out a one-time, $10,000 interest free personal loan from the credit union. The company pays the interest on the loan. There is no penalty if it's not paid back before you leave the company.
-40 hours/year paid family care time. This is on top of our normal personal sick time. The intent of it is to aid with, say, taking children to the doctor or similar tasks.
-Commuter benefits: a fixed cost per month to apply to public transit or parking. In practice it means a free monthly subway pass or highly subsidized commuter rail or parking garage access.
-Back-up childcare/elder care
-I was told that our long-term disability coverage included contributions to our retirement plans, but I can't find evidence of that now.
-I convinced the company last year to reimburse for bike share costs while on company travel!
posted by backseatpilot at 7:06 AM on July 11 [8 favorites]

We can earn additional vacation days for volunteering.
posted by Automocar at 7:24 AM on July 11 [10 favorites]

I used to work for a small start-up that would spring for a very nice Florida beachfront hotel room for every employee's birthday. You even got to choose the hotel. (We were based in Florida) And there was an annual company outing to a major theme park, paid for by them as well.
posted by caveatz at 7:27 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]

* we get a monthly subsidy if we take transit / bike / walk to work
* if we're not in one of our office locations which has a pretty impressive on site and free fitness facility, we get a monthly subsidy to spend at a fitness facility elsewhere
* my office gets free breakfast and lunch catered, but thats not the norm across the company
* we get a yearly credit in which to purchase the products we make, and the rest we purchase are deeply discounted
* personal donations to charitable organizations are matched by the company (some limits apply)
* dog-friendly offices with off leash dog run areas. This is probably the most loved perk. Everyone brings in their (well-behaved) dog to work. The policy has been tweaked and nuanced over the years to accomodate those who are not dog fans, as well as to minimize distractions. The number of chill dogs just hanging out is awesome.
posted by cgg at 7:35 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]

Massage therapy.
posted by grouse at 7:35 AM on July 11

Speaking of pets, I work at a vet school and while the discount on veterinary services isn't actually all that great, there are two cool things:

1) Out teaching hospital is a specialty and emergency hospital, so we don't do any General Practice there (checkups, vaccines, etc), but we do have a Wellness Center that offers GP services only to faculty, staff and students of the college of veterinary medicine. They are so nice, and very good doctors and nurses, and the best vet care in the world is just a few steps away if we do need a referral to the specialists.

2) We keep a colony of cats as blood donors, and I can go and visit them at any time.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:39 AM on July 11 [10 favorites]

I have the option of working overtime without pay and instead banking the hours for (paid) vacation at a later date.
posted by stillmoving at 7:40 AM on July 11

Automotive related - virtually all full time employees can pay a fee of roughly $200 per month and spec up almost any vehicle they like from any of our factories in the world and it will be built to the exact spec (options, colors, powertrain) and shipped to them brand new and they drive it for 12 months, then you get to order a new one for the next 12 months. Runs to about $2400 per year, and you don't have to pay for any vehicle costs (taxes, insurance, maintenance etc) except fuel. Basically you're never in a vehicle older than a year old, and you're always in the latest possible model.

The unusual bit is, if you're management level, you get two vehicles - the other is for your wife. If you ever die while employed, your wife gets to keep hers, free of charge.
posted by xdvesper at 7:42 AM on July 11 [19 favorites]

-Friday afternoons off during the summer
-One of our mandated break times moved to the end of the day, meaning everyone leaves 15 minutes early every day for the same pay
-Once a week, an extra 45 free minutes on the lunch break (paid)
-Flex time, which is not standard for other state agencies
posted by mrgoat at 7:43 AM on July 11

I can have a case of wine any time I want it, delivered to my door. The company has a share in a vineyard.
posted by pipeski at 7:47 AM on July 11 [8 favorites]

I work for an alternative transportation advocacy org. In addition to participating in a citywide program that lets employees purchase transit cards with pre-tax income (a fairly common benefit here), they alternately let employees choose a $20/month stipend to offset the cost of bike maintenance. Lots of my coworkers primarily commute by bike and use this benefit.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:47 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]

Free box! At our food co-op we get any bruised or over ripe produce, dented cans, crushed cereal boxes, day old bread and pastries, day old deli food, out of date vitamins or dairy, etc. We have informal postings of dishes we have made using only free box food.

Bike commuting allowance.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 7:48 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]

Library. My card works the same as everyone else’s, except I don’t accrue late fines at all. (They do make you pay for something if you don’t bring it back in I think a year.)

My union pays $50 for each of these events: birth/adoption of child, death of immediate family member (including me, to my family), and when I got married, and I think if you take more than a certain amount of sick leave.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:56 AM on July 11

When I worked at an international NGO, they would pay for language lessons for a few key languages that were prevalent where we worked. Anyone could take advantage, even if you would never go to the field.

My current employer offers pet insurance discounts, and free legal consulting up to one hour and then discounts after that.
posted by kimdog at 7:57 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]

At the corporate HQ for a Fortune 500 company: they've negotiated discounts for employees at quite a few area businesses, museums, concert venues, etc. I bought my last car several years ago from a dealer who charged a flat 2% over the dealer invoice price for [Company] employees, which was especially good for me as I am Very Bad at haggling.

We can use the corporate rate at the airport parking garage ($9/day vs. the standard $18/day) even for personal travel.

Generous vacation, at least by American standards, and sick days don't count against vacation time. Similar to Stacey's colleague, in addition to a regular increase in vacation allowance every five years, we also get one extra week for that year only. We can also "buy" an extra week of vacation (essentially, unpaid vacation) in most years, but that goes up to two weeks in those milestone years. Last year was one of my milestone years and I was able to travel internationally for a full month, and still have time for a few other vacations.

We have the week between Christmas and New Year's off, paid, and doesn't count against vacation time. Just this year they started doing the same for the week of July 4. (This is not necessarily so good for on-site contractors, though, who may have to take unpaid vacation during these periods.)

Outdoor concerts in the summer.

On-site day care (though not free, and I understand there's a pretty good waiting list to get in). Other benefits for parents which I'm not very familiar with since I don't have children.

On-site gym.

On-site but not free: eye care, dentist, dry cleaning.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:57 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure how unusual these are (probably on the common end of the unusual spectrum) but they stand out to me.

-50% discount on all books/materials published by the company
-2 days a year can be taken off to volunteer
-Arrangements with local cultural spots (museums, zoos) for free admission for yourself and/or family
-Specific coverage of child adoption-related fees
-Jury duty time is paid
-You may take time off with pay to vote in an election
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:57 AM on July 11

The university I work for provides access to their library system, including all the electronic journal resources and the various hardware that can be checked out, even though I have rather limited use for those things in the normal course of my job. I also can purchase a highly subsidized annual bus pass even though my work for them is so part-time that if that work commute were my only bus usage, I'd be better off just buying daily tickets as-needed. And I can have a free Care.com account to make finding babysitters etc. easier. Probably what this boils down to is that it's easier for them to just give that stuff to everyone rather than splitting hairs, but I still think it's cool that nobody seems to begrudge it. They also had zero problems with me taking as much unpaid parental leave as I wanted/needed and coming back when I was ready.

I used to work at a place where everyone who'd been there more than six months could get the full current Adobe CS, free and clear, disks and license keys and everything with no expectation of "returning" it upon departure. Virtually nobody actually officially did graphics/layout work for the company, so it was particularly random. Several people launched photography or graphic design businesses with those tools, and I've made a bunch of logos/materials for non-profits I've worked with over the years. I keep an old laptop around specifically because it runs whatever version I ended with really well and that way I can keep doing that sort of thing.

Epic Systems does an all-expenses-paid vacation for two after five years. Last I heard, it just had to be to somewhere one had never been. (Though I hope they'd make an exemption for visiting distant family.)
posted by teremala at 8:00 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]

I think my favorite benefit as a postdoc is "your campus ID is your MBTA pass for subway/bus for as long as you're here" - it's a benefit for all staff here, which is handy. It came into being about three years ago when the university starting eating their parking lots for construction, but I'll take it.

...I don't actually get that much use out of it, since I walk to lab, but I like not having to care.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 8:03 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]

I work for the Canadian government, and one of the perks around here is free language training in whichever official language you speak less well. It's not exactly an entitlement -- different employees get different amounts according to their needs and current skills -- but it's very, very easy to get at least here in the National Capital Region.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:22 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]

A previous library system at which I worked offered a "book purchase club". If you wanted a new book that the library was sure to order, your book would be added to the library's order and you could pay back the system at the bulk price paid. I think I got the 5th Harry Potter book for, like, $1.20.

As a Librarian I'm able to do all sorts of handwavey stuff with fines and where my place in on hold queues. It's tempting but it's rare that I'll do any of that...I mean, it's a library. I'm not going to cheat my library out of it $1.10 because I can't return a book on time to a place that I literally visit every day.

My favorite back-of-the-house perk is being able to take home the most popular movies any time I want. If a popular movie is on hold for a patron at closing time on, say, a Tuesday night, I can take it home and watch it so long as it's back on the shelf for the patron before open on Wednesday morning.

My favorite on-the-job perk is the occasional delight that comes with a kid who's really into reading. Earlier this week I was treated to a ten-minute re-enactment of a Spiderman book, complete with hand motions and bad-guy voices, delivered by a really excited six-year-old. That's pretty sweet.
posted by Gray Duck at 8:30 AM on July 11 [21 favorites]

My university also has the "your ID is a 24/7 transit pass" perk and it's super great.

I get a lot of software and stuff licensed for personal use at a deep deep discount (or free).

Education benefits, natch. Anyone who works at the university with kids is basically on lock until those kids graduate because free undergrad at one of the most expensive state-related schools in the country is the ultimate perk. My kid is 7 so basically they can count on at least 14 more years of work from me.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:32 AM on July 11

I teach elementary school and I get a lot of fluorescent grocery store birthday cupcakes.

I also get a lot of handmade holiday and birthday cards with creative spelling.

On a less sentimental note, a lot of local museums allow teachers one free entry per calendar year.
posted by mai at 8:32 AM on July 11 [5 favorites]

When I worked for the Federal Reserve, two of the more amazing benefits that stood out were car washes and oil changes in the Bank garage at a much discounted rate and office delivery of fruits and vegetables. They also had dry cleaning drop off and pick up in the garage, twice monthly masseuse, and a damn good cafeteria.

Of course, all of this was designed so you never had to leave work. Which is it's own drama.
posted by teleri025 at 8:46 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]

Not sure it counts as a benefit, but as a remote employee, I can expense my home internet connection. The allowance is enough to completely cover a gig-speed bill. We offer lots of competitive market-par stuff at the actual locations (HQ is in Seattle, offices in San Jose, etc.) but field folks don't see much of that. The internet bit is pretty nice, though.
posted by jquinby at 8:50 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]

I worked at a place awhile back where the owner rented a house in the mountains every summer and whoever wanted to could take their family and stay for a week free.

Small family owned company though.
posted by domino at 9:01 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]

Years ago I worked for a publishing company at a new magazine. In addition to common employee benefits, there was a small nap room with two twin beds, paper sheets and pillowcase covers, and a hospital curtain on a track between the beds for privacy.

The magazine did not survive but I did, in part thanks to the ability to take a nap or rest a bit during the crazy 60-hour weeks.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:02 AM on July 11 [4 favorites]

Free martial arts lessons
posted by warriorqueen at 9:04 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]

- Copy of the software we produce
- Maker room with 3d printers, sewing machines, and laser cutters
- Espresso machine and all the beans and supplies to make caffeinated drinks
posted by nickggully at 9:09 AM on July 11

Perk at a former employer that I really miss - 2U of colocation space with a network drop. At the time I think it was like 100Mbit with a static IP, plus they'd often sell off old systems for basically spare change. I had a few 3-year-old 1U systems racked and running my site until I left the company.

Current employer - unusual perk for the software industry, you are explicitly allowed to work on your own projects or open source projects on your own time. Any open source project, doesn't matter if it's directly competing with one of our projects/products or not. Also, IIRC, it's explicitly spelled out that if you work with a project that relates to our company you are fully empowered to make decisions / etc. that are in conflict with the interest of the company. In theory, none of the software engineers or other contributors to open source can be told by their chain of command to do something that would be against the interest of the open source projects they can participate in. Even through inaction. (They can, of course, choose not to let you work on that project as part of your work time.)
posted by jzb at 9:20 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]

The university where I work used to own the hotel across the street from the airport, and we could park there for free, even if was a family vacation and not for work.

They'd drive us over from the hotel lobby to Departures, and when we came back they'd pick us up and drop us at the car. It was amaaaaaazing.

They sold the hotel, and now I have to pay for parking....like a filthy plebe.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:41 AM on July 11 [4 favorites]

I used to work in an office in the Empire State Building, and my company got a certain number of free VIP / skip-the-line observation deck passes to use per month, which employees could request ahead of time. I used them once to bring out-of-town relatives up top at sunset and it was fantastic. (Otherwise it was a pretty crummy place for an office--better to look at than to work in.)

When I was a kid I acted in TV commercials and often got to bring home extra product or the clothes I wore in the spot. Once I got several wholesale cases of Mr. Goodbar and Watchamcallit that a friend and I tore through one horribly memorable sticky weekend, which forever burned out my ability to eat or enjoy chocolate milk.
posted by miles per flower at 9:42 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]

I work on a farm - in the last week I've taken home probably 70 pounds of berries, some shared, some became jam.

The union is proposing that staff not at the main location (me!) get $50/month to cover not being able to use facilities like the gym and subsidized cafeteria.
posted by momus_window at 9:50 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]

We get an anniversary lunch every 5n years (employees only) - the budget is high enough to cater in a meal for a small department, or take a smaller group out to a nice sit-down place. One colleague used it for a gourmet cookie subscription, so 12 months of fancy cookies in the lunchroom. Sometimes two people who are in sync with the 5 year cycle will combine for a bigger event.

Shortly after my location joined the larger company and was introduced to the policy, one of my colleagues took advantage of a CEO 'open door' day and asked if the reward could be donated to charity, so now we all have that option instead.

Like some others above we have company matches on eligible personal donations, and we get 2 days of paid time off for volunteer work. It's actually frustratingly hard to get people to use their volunteer hours (when last I was on the committee we had 40% usage of hours and 60% of people using any), maybe because they must be during your normal work hours; but since even volunteering in your kid's school is eligible you'd think more would take advantage.

We also have a service committee in each location that organises volunteer events ranging from small, like serving lunch at the senior centre, to large-scale like installing and decorating a library trailer for an orphanage that the company then filled with books. Each location submits grant proposals to headquarters for local community charities. Individuals who are very active in volunteer work can be rewarded with donations to their chosen charity or something like an international trip to a Habitat for Humanity project.
posted by buildmyworld at 10:18 AM on July 11

Oh, my wife works for a veterinary hospital that is owned by a subsidiary of Mars and apparently they get great discounts on bulk candy, but we've never had occasion to buy any.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:20 AM on July 11

I work at a mid-size biotech company located outside of the major biotech hubs. Some of the benefits we have:
-on-site free clinic where we can get simple stuff like lab work, antibiotics, and vaccines
-free on-site therapy (big wait list for that)
-80 hours/year paid "Caregiver Leave" that can be used to care for any family member
-80 hours/year for a volunteer project (they limit the number of these and there's an application process)
-discounted on-site wellness woo, like reiki and sound therapy, as well as some more evidence-based stuff (massage, accupuncture)
-nice gyms with fitness classes and personal training
-lunchtime sports leagues
-we're building a new facility that will have a basketball court and music practice rooms with pianos
-free electric car charging
-there is a day care on our campus that the company puts some money into. Employees don't get a subsidy, but we jump the waiting list, and the company pays for a big-ticket stuff like staff appreciation and a recent big remodel.
-this is not exactly a benefit in the traditional sense, but the company puts a lot of money into our physical environment, including really nice art in the buildings (even the non-public-facing ones) and landscaping that has basically restored the natural prairie in the middle of an office park.
posted by juliapangolin at 10:27 AM on July 11

I work for a large hospitality corporation. We have oodles of benefits but a new one that I love - they will pay for Milk Stork, which is a breast milk shipping service for any new and breastfeeding moms during travel.
posted by elisebeth at 10:27 AM on July 11

I work for Target. The basic team member discount of 10% seems a little stingy if you think of it in isolation, but there's an additional 10% discount on clearance merchandise and a 20% off "wellness" discount that applies to (company-owned C9 Champion brand) health and fitness equipment and apparel, (company-owned Simply Balanced brand) organic food (weirdest thing this has applied to: organic dill pickles, which exist for some reason), and all fresh or frozen produce. All the various discounts stack, including sales, Cartwheel offers, and the 5% Redcard discount. For a while after I started I would go through my receipts to figure out the precise order of operations for how the discounts actually stacked, because nothing made sense until I did that. There are some price inversions where the organic version of a thing will end up being cheaper than the conventional version because of the extra wellness discount (like, organic cage free eggs are cheaper than regular cage free eggs, and organic frozen vegetables are sometimes cheaper than comparable conventional frozen vegetables, even accounting for differences in package size).

For the curious: percent-off team member discounts are calculated on prices after advertised sales and coupons but before tax. The only way I made the math work is to figure out the rounded cash value of each discount individually, and then to calculate subsequent stacked discounts based on the previous value less the rounded discount (otherwise my totals would be off by around a penny in one direction or the other). To make matters more confusing, taxes are calculated on the full price less any (rounded) team member discounts but before coupons, and Redcard discounts are figured on the total after discounts and coupons, but including the tax calculated previously. So if you buy something that's $4.49, but with a 50¢ manufacturer coupon, your team member discount will be 40¢ (10% of $3.99, rounded), tax will be calculated on a net price of $4.09 (in DC tax is 6%, so that's 25¢), and the Redcard discount will be calculated as round(5% of ($4.49 - 0.5 - 0.4 + 0.25), 2), or 19¢. Net charge, $3.84. Advertised percent-off sales are calculated the same rounded way, before the team member discount, so if you're a team member using a Redcard to buy a C9 Champion shirt that's $14.99 before an advertised 20% off, the discounts amount to: $3 (20% off sale), $1.20 (10% off everything for team members, calculated on $11.99), $2.16 (20% off wellness, calculated on $10.79), and $0.46 (5% Redcard discount on $9.15 + tax of $0.46). Every now and then I'll still get a receipt that puzzles me enough to make me pull out a fancy calculator app. I forgot about the extra discount on clearance until I bought a Dyson vacuum.

The weirdest thing about this, though, is that the Target app will now send you a push notification with your total Cartwheel savings after every purchase that includes a Cartwheel offer. Since the app is already the lowest-friction method for a team member to pay and get discounts, I get a lot of push notifications. Target is thirsty.
posted by fedward at 10:42 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]

Pre-tax university subsidized transit passes, free entry to the Museum of Fine Arts with my ID.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:47 AM on July 11

I work in a company that just came out (very well) from the startup stage, and we have all the free food one could eat (so long as you want to eat shelf-stable fruits, bagels, muffins, candy, popcorn, chips, and yogurt), free beverages (including alcohol after 4pm), a free chair massage every month, free manicures (2) every month, a free haircut (from a barber, no salon yet) every month, as well as what's called "snack," which is a full catered meal every Friday.
posted by xingcat at 10:51 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]

Fortune 100 company in the financial sector here.
As others have mentioned, we get a day off to volunteer each year, which is during a specific two week period. This sounds restrictive, but it's actually nice because everyone does it and participation rate is really high, so you don't feel like you're neglecting your regular work.
You can also earn additional days off to volunteer by volunteering during your own time.
You can log your off-work volunteer time to be eligible for grants for an org of your choice.
The company will match 50% of your annual donation to charities (with some caveats - no charities associated with your kid's school for example. But Planned Parenthood and the ACLU were fine.) with no limit.
This will sound incredibly minor to anyone not in a big city, but though the company's underground parking is too small to accommodate all but the most senior executives and out-of-town visitors during regular business hours, they allow you to park for free there after 5 and on weekends. (This is in Boston's Back Bay area) Super useful, and I really love being able to just drive into the city and not have to worry about parking.
College scholarships that pay some tuition for employees' children.
Ability to use their discounted travel rates for airlines and hotels for personal travel.
A concierge service - which I've never used - where you can theoretically call them and have them book travel and tickets / buy flowers or gifts etc. for you.
They will also reimburse upto $20000 for adoption and surrogacy related expenses.
posted by peacheater at 10:54 AM on July 11

i work at a private college.

- for full-time employees they will pay 50% of your children's college tuition (up to 50% of the cost of tuition here, which is on the very high end). it was 90% until about ten years or so ago. it does not cover room/board costs.

- the university actually holds our mortgage (and home improvement loans) and the rate is 25% below the market rate of whenever you close. we have a 30-year fixed mortgage at like 2.6%.

- allowed to take a couple classes every year for free, they do not have to be related to your job
posted by noloveforned at 11:14 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]

Free bag of coffee beans once a week.
posted by matildaben at 11:21 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]

I worked at a place awhile back where the owner rented a house in the mountains every summer and whoever wanted to could take their family and stay for a week free.

The Texas supermarket H-E-B owns two "lodges" which employees can vacation at. (I'm not sure how big they are or how competitive the bookings are, but the person I knew who worked at H-E-B took his family most summers.)
posted by hoyland at 11:32 AM on July 11

We get our birthdays off.

One place I worked for wanted us to be more computer savvy, so they gave everyone $400 to spend on whatever personal computer thing we wanted (this was a very long time ago).
posted by FencingGal at 11:38 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]

My company has an ongoing charity match program but also gives out random extra charity rewards. I donate enough through United Way to get an extra $100 per year and I can send that anywhere, not just the places I regularly donate. Then this year we got another $50 to donate for anyone who logged at least one volunteer hour in the first quarter.
Our building (not company owned) has a concierge who can book tickets and sometimes has last minute tix available for a discount. They also offer limited gym passes and discount cards to places like restaurants and golf clubs.
posted by soelo at 12:26 PM on July 11

My previous company (big pharma) had their entire line-up of prescription drugs for free for anyone who was covered under employee health care plan. They also matched a very decent percentage of our pay in our 401k plans even when we put in nothing (free $$).
posted by extramundane at 12:28 PM on July 11

Once upon a time, if you got 30 years in with my university system, they would pay for your health insurance from retirement until death (and if you got 20 years in they'd pay half). They've since dropped this benefit (my wife isn't eligible for it), but I'm grandfathered in.
posted by joycehealy at 12:33 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]

I once applied for a job at Pfizer, and one of the perks they listed on the website was free Viagra. Specifically Viagra. No other free pharmaceuticals mentioned.
I did not get the job.
posted by FencingGal at 12:33 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]

Unlimited* sick days per year, which can be applied to taking care of a sick family member. I didn't appreciate this fully until I had children. (And I can say from experience that I take far less sick time now than I did before when I accrued it.)

12 weeks of baby bonding leave for non-birth parents of any gender, +4 if you're the birth mother. Non-birth parents are actively encouraged to take their leave by the management chain.

* For a certain value of unlimited -- if you're out for 5 or more days in a row they want you to take short-term disability, and I gather that there's a secret cap that you can run into.
posted by kdar at 12:33 PM on July 11

Many years ago I worked in outdoor recreation at a large (for the industry) company. We could, space permitting, go on raft trips and take whitewater canoe and kayak lessons for free; we could also use this benefit for a family member or friend as long as there was space. So, if your parent came to visit and wanted to raft, you could get them added to a trip at the last minute (and it was only confirmed at the last minute, when it was too late for a paying customer to get the spot). I knew folks who used this to get their kid into a kids' kayaking class. I was able to get a friend into a five-day whitewater kayaking class, and I remember everyone was really surprised that was even an option, but it worked out.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:39 PM on July 11

My current company hosts parties at both the CEOs house as well as local wineries that are fully catered and they bring in bands. Lots of us work remotely (a big perk in my book!) so it's fun to hang out in person. It helps that my colleagues are nice and great to talk to.
posted by ananci at 12:50 PM on July 11

A mobile bike mechanic is on-site once a week and bike commuters get 2 free tune-ups (or equivalent services) per year. It's a small thing but so convenient!
posted by esoterrica at 12:58 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]

I work in event promotion and production. I get tickets to every major music festival, I can request free tickets from any client we work with, I get guestlisted and comped for various things all the time, we get sooooo many free beverages, and they let me bring my dog to work.

Last one is the biggest deal to me, honestly.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:02 PM on July 11

When auditioning for roles in commercials, in the Canadian union, actors get paid $50 for each callback. Standard for casting commercials is 1, sometimes 2 callbacks, as the shortlist is winnowed and different ensembles of actors are tried out together. The callback fee prevents engagers from holding a million callbacks, which used to happen because a lot of ad clients are indecisive, plus they'd benefit from the free labour of all the auditioning actors whose audition choices would help the client workshop and polish the material.

On film and TV sets, there's decent and plentiful free food, including a snack truck (called the Craft Truck), a table of snacks, and a fully catered main meal. Also, regular hot snacks, called "substantials" or "subs"- such as a little bowl of chili or a burrito- are brought around every couple hours. Shoot days are gruelling, you really can't leave the set which is often in a desolate warehouse somewhere, and a hungry crew is a grumpy crew! So everyone is generally quite well-fed.

Actors above a certain level get picked up at home and driven to set- sometimes in a group vehicle, or sometimes alone in a vehicle, depending on status.

Sometimes actors get to keep some of their costumes or beauty products after the shoot is over.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:04 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]

Public sector (federal agency) here. I've always been a bit jealous of some of my wife's private-sector benefits (particularly the free lunches and awesome Christmas parties) but I still get some good ones:

- Free employee-assistance program, provides referrals particularly for childcare/eldercare, relocation, financial planning, etc. I've never needed to used it but I've heard excellent things about it.

- Free online courses for a wide variety of subjects (everything from IT to management skills to German). Can also take in-person training with supervisor approval.

- Full transit subsidy. Free electric-vehicle charging in some buildings (unfortunately not mine). Free bike storage and locker-room facilities for bike commuters, plus they can use transit subsidy towards bike maintenance.

- Free, very well-stocked travel health clinic (our agency has a lot of folks traveling to less-than-nice parts of the world).

- Reasonably generous leave allowances, at least for a US employer. No carryover limit on sick leave, and it can be used for family/eldercare if needed.

We also have a lot of people working in expat-type positions overseas, and they really get the good benefits: No-interest loans for relocation assistance, local and US holidays off, extra pay for the really questionable places, paid-for flights home once/year or thereabouts and in certain extenuating circumstances (death in the family, medical issues, etc).
posted by photo guy at 1:17 PM on July 11

My partner occasionally gets pro sports tickets with really good seats, decent discounts for rental cars, and has access to some things we haven't used like a network of timeshare properties. There are discounted electric chargers at her work as well.

I'm a freelancer so my main perks are controlling my own schedule and working primarily from home, which is excellent. But I do get some free shoes and clothing from one of my clients on occasion.
posted by a halcyon day at 1:51 PM on July 11

I used to work for a place that supplied fillers for the Oscar ceremonies. Never did it, though.
posted by praemunire at 1:57 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]

10 weeks/year of personal/sick leave (when you're sick or caring for somebody who is) after 1 year of service. You can also convert a week of this to professional development leave so you can attend a course or the like.
posted by cholly at 2:21 PM on July 11

My employer (a tech company) offers 2 weeks of paid leave for adoption of a shelter dog or cat. Note that this is explicitly for adoption from a shelter/rescue, and not available if you purchase from a breeder.
posted by namewithoutwords at 2:59 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]

I work for a well known tech company. In addition to the usual tech company perks (free gourmet meals, unlimited sick leave and generous family leave, cushy coach-style shuttles, onsite gym, etc) my favorite perk is that our work phone comes with unlimited international data and we are allowed to use it whenever we want for personal uses, anywhere in the world no matter the cost. I went 4 years without a personal phone because of it.

Actually, I take that back. My new-new favorite benefit is the healthcare concierge we have that will argue with insurance over bills and find doctors that are taking new patients. HUGE time-saver for anyone in America who has more than minor health issues. Their nurse line is also way better/more personal than the one my insurance offers, maybe because they are focused on doing the right thing for the patient, not the bottom line for the insurance company. I wish every employer offered this.
posted by joan_holloway at 3:19 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]

Not My Company, and second hand, but there's a Canadian LP (licensed producer) who has "friendly" doctors - any employee who wants can get a scrip. The company then is able to provide them an amount of medical Cannabis free of charge once a week.

The medical and 'adult use' cultivation/ production streams are identical.

Our company provides an annual 'shoe allowance' ($150/ year) to spend on 'laboratory shoes' that they must change into before entering the cleanroom areas of the facility. Shoes stay in staff lockers, can be taken home (but must be replaced with another pair).
posted by porpoise at 3:43 PM on July 11

if you're management level, you get two vehicles - the other is for your wife. If you ever die while employed, your wife gets to keep hers, free of charge.

Sounds like diversity in management could use a bit of work here :)
posted by ethand at 4:59 PM on July 11 [15 favorites]

I'm self-employed, so I get nothing, but when I worked in television, our TV station did a lot of "trade" (barter) business, usually as a mix with regular purchased ad time. Various things we got for free:

-- dry cleaning (and once-weekly pick-up/drop-off from work)
-- gym memberships
-- lots of local (really minor league sports tickets)
-- weekend B&B stays
-- car washes and detailing in the parking lot while we worked
-- rentals of fancy/crazy dressup clothes (like heavy sequined ballgowns and tuxes)

Back then, everything I work got dry-cleaned, so that was a huge benefit. When I changed cities/TV stations and no longer had that benefit, I realized it was one of my largest monthly expenses. (Happily, I think I've only been to the dry-cleaners twice in the last 18 years.)
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 5:02 PM on July 11

I’m a nanny for one child, working part time during the school year and full time during the summer. The family pays me for 30 hours a week during the school year, even though I work only about 16. They send me an additional $300 every month to help cover the cost of my marketplace health insurance, and my transit pass. I can do laundry at their house. They gave me a spare Bianchi bike a few years back, which I’ve been riding since (and the dad often helps me with small repairs). When they go out of town, it’s “their fault”, so I get paid.

Thanks for reminding me how killer my job benefits are!
posted by sucre at 6:04 PM on July 11 [6 favorites]

My company gives me fulltime benefits despite working only 32 hours per week. It's nice when every weekend is a 3 day weekend. For long term employees, paid medical leave after you use one week of your vacation. Last year I had a medical issue and was out nine weeks and got full pay. I had to use one of my four weeks of vacation, so I still had three weeks of vacation in addition to two personal days and five sick days. Next year, after I've been there 15 years, it will be five weeks of vacation per year. It's nice when your parent company is German.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 6:22 PM on July 11

Perks I Have Had (not all at the same job!)
Seating in the MLB stadium suite if there was room (I could get away with going if there were clients, but when it wasn’t in use for clients you’d still get to go — no catering, but great seats, outlets and a private bathroom.
Free prescription safety glasses every two years, and reimbursement for steel-toe boots on the same schedule.
Opportunity to bid on unused seats for touring performances of Broadway plays.
Phone paid for.
Company-branded gear if you competed in a triathlon.
Cab and dinner expensable if you worked past 7.
Working 40 in 4.5 between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Opportunity to volunteer to dress as the company mascot at MLB games (same team, different job) and host a version of Deal or No Deal on the Jumbotron.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:28 PM on July 11

Last I checked, McMaster-Carr reimburses all tuition for classes, regardless of relevance to your work. I know a programmer there who got them to pay for a Master's in literature.

Columbia, for certain classes of employees, will pay your children's undergrad tuition if they can get into Columbia (and maybe also Barnard?) or half their tuition if they go anywhere else.

Peloton will give you a free Peloton subscription and sell you the bike for something like $500.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 6:42 PM on July 11

Oh, and Peloton reimburses registration for any competitive sporting event, and has a very well-equipped gym including bumper plates so you can do Oly lifts at work.

/envious sigh
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 6:46 PM on July 11

I'm in Australia, so my sick leave (15days/year) is separate from holiday leave (20days/year). One of the many things that my sick leave can be used for is Moving leave, no more than 2days/year, and they must be consecutive. It's magic to be able to take a 4 day weekend when I need to move house.
posted by kjs4 at 6:59 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]

We have 6 months full pay sick leave and then 6 months half pay. It is managed though.

We can take 1 paid volunteering day a year.

We can work from home as we see fit, and vary our start and finish times. These are both subject to business needs.
posted by plonkee at 11:34 PM on July 11

Working for a movie theater chain, I had the best perk ever: ★ Free Movie Card ★
Could be used anytime to get two tickets to any movie showing, with whatever insane premium VIP seats or 4D goggles or shaking seats you fancied. The only limitation was no more than 2 tickets per showing. I was always shocked that most employees never used theirs. We abused the hell out of that perk with movie marathons (5 is the most we could get in a day) and used the theater as a second living room for years.
posted by Freyja at 10:00 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]

Free flights on a private jet (I've sadly never had the chance to use this perk though).
posted by noneuclidean at 7:11 PM on July 12

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