As we noted in our post earlier today, the US v Windsor decision mandates changes to a variety of employer policies. We have also noted that the decision may impact enrollment in benefit plans in states where same-sex marriage is recognized.
USA Today is reporting that Wal-Mart has recently announced that it will go beyond what the federal law requires. Beginning January 1, 2014, Wal-Mart will offer benefits to same-sex spouses and domestic partners in all 50 states, regardless of whether the state in which the employee resides recognizes same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships.
As reported by USA Today, Wal-Mart spokesperson Randy Hargrave explained that under the new policy permitting the enrollment of partners, partners of Wal-Mart employees can be either of the same or opposite sex and married or unmarried, as long as they’ve been “living together in an ongoing exclusive” relationship for at least 12 months and intend to stay that way.” Hargrove also noted that, “No proof is required today to enroll a spouse or a partner.”
What was of interest to us in this announcement was the results of a poll that said that 62% of Fortune 500 companies already provide benefits to domestic partners. We have to admit that we would not have thought the number was that high. Or maybe we’ve just been influenced by the constant barrage of speculative news stories claiming that “Obama-Care” is going to mean most employers will be either laying off full-time employees or drastically reducing the benefits already offered.
What are your thoughts? Has your company dropped the level of benefits it is offering?