Providing employees access to affordable, quality legal services is gaining recognition among employers as a potential addition to enhance a voluntary benefits program, according to a new survey of human resource and benefits professionals. The study, sponsored by MetLife, found the top reasons why a growing number of employers do offer group legal plans are to improve employee satisfaction (69%) and retention and loyalty (44%), as well as to compete with other companies’ benefit programs (32%). One of the primary positive results of the availability of a legal plan – cited by 74% of surveyed employers – is helping employees achieve peace of mind when dealing with a legal issue. Other benefits include reducing employees’ levels of stress (68%), reducing cost of legal services (62%), reducing time spent at work dealing with personal issues (58%) and providing above average quality of legal services (57%). “The interest in legal plans by both employers and employees has been steadily building,” commented Bill Brooks, CEO of Hyatt Legal Plans, a MetLife company. Brooks notes that 71% of people will encounter a legal issue each year, according to the American Bar Association. “This is a benefit that spans the generations and suits a diverse workforce because there is a broad range of situations where an attorney can help. Quality legal assistance at a cost of about $216 a year – less than some attorneys may bill per hour – can be an effective way to generate employee loyalty.” Room for Market Growth The study found that approximately two-thirds of employers that don’t currently offer a group legal plan would be open to adding it to their voluntary benefit portfolio if they had additional insights. For example, one concern is whether having a legal plan would add to administrative burdens. The study revealed, however, that 64% of surveyed employers who currently have group legal plans actually find them easier to administer than other voluntary benefits, with an additional 35% finding them at least as easy.