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LEVI STRAUSS RANKED TOPS FOR BENEFITS; IBM, PROCTER & GAMBLE AND EASTMAN KODAK GET HIGH MARKS TOO; MORE FIRMS MOVE TOWARD "FAMILY-FRIENDLY" PERKS

LEVI STRAUSS RANKED TOPS FOR BENEFITS; IBM, PROCTER & GAMBLE AND EASTMAN KODAK GET HIGH MARKS TOO; MORE FIRMS MOVE TOWARD "FAMILY-FRIENDLY" PERKS
 NEW YORK, May 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Levi Strauss topped a list of the 10 big U.S. companies with the best employee benefits, reports the June issue of Money Magazine. IBM, Procter & Gamble and Eastman Kodak got high marks as well.
 In the magazine's second-annual survey of benefits plans at large corporations (10,000 or more people covered), Money rated the firms for factors including medical and dental coverage, life and disability insurance, time off, pension and retirement savings and stock-purchase plans.
 Blue-jeans maker Levi Strauss earned top honors for providing its 23,000 employees with solid perks such as low, $1,200 out-of-pocket annual maximums for medical coverage, up to 100 percent short-term and 60 percent long-term disability coverage, 50 percent company-matched retirement savings, three- to seven-week annual vacation time, benefits for unmarried partners, child-care subsidies and Friday afternoons off.
 Computer giant IBM's benefits include 100 percent surgical coverage, one-year paid leave with benefits for community service and up to $2,500 education reimbursement for retirees; soap products leader Procter & Gamble's include up to $1,600 reimbursement per orthodontics treatment, annual profit sharing of up to 25 percent of pay and low-rate long-term care insurance.
 The rest of the top-10, in order: Eastman Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, Merck, Xerox, Citicorp, Quaker Oats and Johnson & Johnson.
 According to Money, the current trend is toward family-oriented benefits that help employees cope with life in the '90s. The personal- finance monthly notes that even many companies that are cutting back on health insurance and pensions are introducing so-called family friendly benefits including flextime, job sharing, child-care assistance and leaves for family emergencies.
 In addition, some large companies have taken more progressive approaches to benefits. For example, tobacco and food giant RJR Nabisco offers college tuition-loan guarantees and company-matched college savings, Levi Strauss (No. 1) and software maker Lotus Development have led the way in extending health coverage to homosexual partners of employees, and several firms, including No. 4 Kodak and No. 6 Merck, offer job counseling and referrals to "trailing" spouses of relocated workers.
 Money notes, however, that "even as the new perks proliferate, old standbys like no-cost health insurance and company-paid pensions are becoming harder to find." With medical expenses rising about 8 percent a year, the percentage of individuals with free coverage fell from 52 percent in 1988 to 35 percent last year. And since 1989, cost-conscious firms have canceled more than 32,000 guaranteed pension plans.
 -0- 5/20/92
 /CONTACT: Patti Straus of Money Magazine, 212-522-2695/ CO: Money magazine ST: New York IN: PUB SU:


SM-OS -- NY053 -- 6227 05/20/92 12:13 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 20, 1992
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