NU Online News Service, Jan. 15, 2004, 5:16 p.m. EST – U.S. employers are coping with the weak economy and the high cost of traditional benefits by offering richer “work/life” benefits, according to the Ridgefield Park, N.J.-based human resources unit of Mellon Financial Corp.[@@]

The unit surveyed more than 600 large employers and found that 81% now provide employee assistance programs, up from 70% in 1996.

Here are the increases in penetration rates for other common work/life benefits:

- Family sick days: 54% (up from 42%).

- Flex time: 71% (32%).

- Telecommuting and work-at-home arrangements: 50% (9%).

- Compressed work weeks: 44% (16%).