From protecting our personal interests to navigating major life milestones, like getting married or buying a home, legal matters are an inevitable part of our lives. In fact, MetLife Legal Plans’ Legal Access Study found more than two-thirds of today’s employees (67 percent) have experienced a legal situation in the past five years. So, it’s not surprising that employee interest for legal plans has more than doubled since pre-pandemic (34 percent in 2023 vs. 16 percent in 2019).
As the legal landscape evolves and workplace expectations change, it’s clear that employers have a role to play in supporting employees with what they experience both in and outside of work.
However, despite growing employee interest in legal plans, only a third (33 percent) of employers offer it and even fewer employees (20 percent) own it. Insights like these demonstrate that it’s not enough for employers to simply offer this benefit; they must also consider how to increase understanding of this resource to ensure employees feel empowered to use it to their advantage. Here’s how:
Increase communication: As a trusted resource for benefits information, it’s crucial for employers to educate employees on the need for legal coverage and the scenarios in which a plan can play a supportive role. For instance, legal plans can help with a range of matters, including adoption or reproductive assistance, school and administrative hearings, traffic violations and more.
Few employees understand why they would need a legal plan leaving them less likely to elect this offering at open enrollment. Therefore, employer benefits communication is critical. Deploying multichannel strategies combining traditional in-person educational tactics such as lunch and learns and human resources office hours, with digital communications, including using digital displays and internal chat platforms, will frequently expose employees to the benefit.
Additionally, legal plan providers create customized communications collateral employers can use to populate their intranets, employee emails and even send push notifications to employee phones. Employers can work with their legal plan provider for communications assets during open enrollment, awareness months and other key events throughout the year.
Address misconceptions: Many employees hold misconceptions about group legal plans, including what services they cover and how much they cost. The top five misconceptions include:
1. you must pay extra to get actual representation from an attorney;
2. legal services are capped at a specific monetary value;
3. serious criminal matters are not covered;
4. a person can only use the legal service for one issue at a time; and
5. legal services only give you access to documents and templates online.
While legal plan coverages do vary by provider and employer—the basics of a competitive plan include:
• Unlimited consultation and representation from an attorney with no copays, deductibles, claim forms or waiting periods
• Ability to have the multiple cases open simultaneously
• Access to experienced and vetted attorneys
Demonstrate the value: Employer-offered legal plans have several benefits, including improving the chances of receiving a favorable decision, helping close the financial gap between those who can and cannot afford legal services, and providing the mental and emotional security that comes with knowing an attorney is helping with legal matters, to name a few. Highlighting the value of this resource can help employees make benefit selections that better support their unique needs.
Employers who proactively communicate with and educate their employees about legal plans tend to see higher utilization rates, and overall satisfaction with benefits. Employers offering a legal plan are 12 percent more likely to say they have increased workforce productivity, compared to employers who do not offer this resource. Moreover, employees with a legal plan are more likely to be working for their organization in 12 months’ time (82 percent vs. 72 percent)—demonstrating the win-win nature of this benefit.
As employees navigate socioeconomic conditions, personal matters and changes to state and federal laws, it’s easy to understand why employees have robust levels of interest in legal services and why employers need to help bridge the ownership gap.