Stay informed and ready to meet both everyday challenges and long-term planning and policy-making goals, with focused news, practical information, and strategic insights on all HR-related...
By Sean Forbes
June 27 — A year after the U.S. Supreme Court's Windsor ruling, 82 percent of U.S. employers offer benefits to same-sex couples, up from 61 percent in June 2013, according to survey results released June 26.
More than half (55 percent) of the 538 human resources, benefits and industry professionals who responded to the survey said they offered benefits to same-sex couples because they strive to be inclusive and recognize that there are types of families other than those designated by law, according to the report from International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
The remaining 45 percent said they offered such benefits simply to remain compliant with the law, according to the report, “Employee Benefits for Same-Sex Couples: the DOMA Decision One Year Later.”
Employers with 10,000 or more employees were likelier to report a more inclusive approach.
In United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675, 57 EBC 1577 (2013), the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, defining a marriage as between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional.
Even though 58 percent of respondents said they have been affected by recent changes in the law regarding same-sex marriages, at both federal and state levels, few said the changes had a “very” (10 percent) or “extremely” high impact (4 percent).
All but 1 percent of employers intend to continue providing benefits for unmarried same-sex partners, the survey found.
Fifty-eight percent of employers have operations in states where same-sex marriage is legal as well as in states where it isn't. IFEBP asked this group whether they planned to extend benefits to same-sex couples.
Eighty percent said they now extend benefits to all married same-sex couples whether or not those couples live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.
In an August 2013 IFEBP survey conducted in the wake of the Windsor decision, 16 percent of respondents with operations in both types of states said they had already extended benefits to same-sex married couples regardless of where the couples lived, and another 24 percent said they would. Another 40 percent said they were just waiting for further legal or regulatory guidance.
Among employers operating only in states where same-sex marriage isn't recognized, the number that offer benefits to same-sex couples, whether married or not, jumped from 9 percent last year to 32 percent this year.
“We saw, I think, more of an increase, at least than I was expecting,” Julie Stich, director of research for IFEBP, told Bloomberg BNA on June 26.
IFEBP also found that companies with operations only in nonrecognition states communicated changes in the law far less than companies with operations in both recognition and nonrecognition states, Stich said.
Employers “are playing a bit of catch-up” in obtaining proof of marriage for same-sex married partners compared with opposite-sex couples, Stich said.
Employers have asked for proof of marriage for various reasons, such as dependent eligibility audits, she said.
Fifty-five percent of employers said they require proof of marriage for same-sex couples, and Stich said another 11 percent indicated they plan to do so.
Sixty-one percent of employers said they require proof of marriage for opposite-sex spouses, and Stich said another 8 percent said they plan to do so.
IFEBP also found that employers have taken various actions in the wake of the Windsor ruling, including:
To contact the reporter on this story: Sean Forbes in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Kushin at email@example.com
Text of the IFEBP report is available at http://www.ifebp.org/pdf/research/execsummary_doma14.pdf, and of an infographic at http://www.ifebp.org/pdf/research/infographics_doma2014.pdf.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)