Employees are looking for legal services more than ever. Here’s what employers need to know.

While many businesses remain closed or restricted, consumers’ online spending habits have increased, leaving them vulnerable to internet scams and identity theft.

About half of all Americans face a legal problem each year. In the context of the pandemic, this number is only expected to increase, as many are crossing new legal hurdles for the first time – from ending a rental agreement to buying a new home or filing for bankruptcy. . These problems are not only stressful and time-consuming, but also incredibly expensive. just consider that the typical rate for an hour of legal services is around $370. For employees who are unprepared, sudden legal issues can prove detrimental to their financial health, not to mention their mental well-being.

Related: Financial stress from COVID-19 harms employee health and well-being

Fortunately, employers can support employees facing the unexpected by offering a legal plan. This benefit not only covers the costs of an array of services on some of today’s most frequently needed legal matters, but can also improve the overall well-being and work performance of employees. In fact, MetLife’s 2020 Employee Benefits Trends Study (EBTS) found that employees who believe their employer provides benefits that contribute to their well-being are significantly more likely to be productive and engaged at work than those who are not (87% versus 74% and 81% versus 67%, respectively).

With that in mind, here are three of the most common legal issues employees face this year, and how employer-sponsored legal plans can help:

1. Estate planning

The unpredictability of the past year has prompted many Americans to take stock of their strengths and better prepare for the unexpected. As a result, many employees have begun to think more seriously about estate planning to help them take control of their health care wishes and finances, as well as their family’s future.

In fact, some law firms have reported a 25-30% increase in estate planning since the pandemic began. Amid this heightened interest, it may be a good idea for employers to offer resources, like legal benefits, that cover the services of experienced attorneys who can, for example, help them navigate the nuanced rules of their state. when writing their will. When employees are confident that their estate is properly prepared, they can take comfort in knowing that they have done their part to ensure their wishes are granted and their families are taken care of, come what may.

2. Accommodation agreements

Whether buying a home for the first time or wondering how to end a lease, many Americans have gone through changes in their living circumstances since the pandemic began. Just consider that about one in five American adults has moved due to circumstances related to COVID-19, or know someone who has.

Employer-provided legal services can ease some of the headaches of the moving process by helping employees navigate complicated contracts and last-minute changes that make the process more expensive and confusing. Similarly, some legal plans also cover landlord-tenant disputes, helping employees access attorneys who can negotiate on their behalf to terminate, challenge, or modify a tenancy agreement.

3. Impersonation

In 2019, over 3 million identity theft and fraud reports were filed with law enforcement and private organizations. Now, as our world becomes increasingly digital amid the pandemic, that number could increase; with many businesses remaining closed or restricted, consumers’ online spending habits have increased, leaving them vulnerable to internet scams and identity theft. In fact, a survey of Certified Fraud Examiners (CFE) revealed that 73% observed an increase in identity theft and 80% expect even more cases in the coming year.

Although dealing with identity theft can be scary at first, having access to an attorney through a legal plan can help employees communicate confidently with debt collectors and credit bureaus. While fraud cases can be unpredictable, it’s always best for employees to be prepared, which can save them time, money, and stress down the road.

Amid the myriad of life changes Americans are experiencing this year, it’s no surprise that the demand for employee legal assistance is on the rise. With this in mind, especially since one in three employees cite personal finances as a top source of stress, it is important that employers provide their employees with the legal tools necessary to protect themselves and their families. By saving employees from having to endure lengthy and complex legal issues on their own, employers can help employees return to work feeling less stressed and more focused, which improves both their well-being and work outcomes. the employer.

Ingrid Tolentin is CEO of MetLife Legal Plans.

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