Employee Benefits & Policies

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This criteria is designed to familiarize an organization with best practices, from The Joint Commission and other sources, to promote equity and inclusion for LGBTQ employees.

Reviewing the practices implemented by other organizations and recommended by experts, an organization can identify and address gaps in their policies and practices. A healthcare organization’s LGBTQ employees play a vital role in ensuring LGBTQ patient-centered care by informally educating their co-workers about patient concerns, offering feedback about organizational policies and practices, and conveying to the local community their organization’s commitment to equity and inclusion.

It is critical that LGBTQ employees, like LGBTQ patients, receive equal treatment, particularly vis-à-vis health-related benefits and policies. Competitive employer-provided benefits’ packages are critical to attracting and retaining talent. From healthcare coverage to retirement investments and more, ensuring LGBTQ-inclusive benefits to employees and their families is an overall low-cost, high-return proposition for businesses. In addition, equitable benefits structures align with the principle of equal compensation for equal work. Apart from actual wages paid, benefits account, on average, for approximately 30 percent of employees’ overall compensation. Therefore, employers should ensure that this valuable bundle of benefits is equitably extended to their workforce, irrespective of sexual orientation and gender identity. When denied equal benefits coverage, the cost to LGBTQ workers and their families is profound.

These policies are also informed by the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, or CEI. The CEI is the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

To receive credit in the HEI:

This criterion is divided into two scored subsections. The first subsection consists of 13 scored questions and like the other criterion sections you can either receive full or partial credit depending upon how many initiatives you have in place. The second subsection is related to the provision of transgender healthcare benefits for your employees and is worth 5 points.

There are 13 scored questions in this subsection. In order to receive full credit for this section (15 points), your facility must have at least 6 or more of these best practices in place. Facilities that have 3 to 5 of these best practices in place will receive a partial score of 10 for this section of the criterion.

Scored best practices include:

Equal Benefits

  • The health insurance policy’s definition of spouse includes same-sex spouses AND the same documentation is required for enrollment of same and different-sex spouses
  • Healthcare benefits are provided to domestic partners
  • FMLA-equivalent benefit allows employees to take family and medical leave to care for domestic partners as well as the children of a domestic partner, regardless of biological or adoptive status
  • Bereavement leave benefit includes the event of the death of a domestic partner or the partner’s immediate family

Additional support for LGBTQ employees

  • Facility adopts written gender transition guidelines documenting supportive policies and practices on issues pertinent to a workplace gender transition
  • Facility officially recognizes an LGBTQ employee resource group
  • Facility’s diversity & inclusion office, diversity council or working group focused on employee diversity specifically includes LGBTQ diversity as part of its mission
  • Anonymous employee engagement or climate surveys allow employees the option to identify as LGBTQ
  • Anonymous employee engagement or climate surveys include question(s) related to LGBTQ concerns
  • Confidential human resources information system (HRIS) captures sexual orientation and/or gender identity (if voluntarily disclosed) along with other demographic information such as race and gender
  • Facility commemorates an LGBTQ Awareness Day for employees at the facility
  • Facility has explicitly LGBTQ-inclusive hiring efforts
  • Facility has openly LGBTQ people serving in high-level visible leadership positions

Healthcare benefits impacting transgender employees

The question in this subsection is scored independently and must be met in order to attain Leader status.

  • Facility provides at least one health plan to all employees that affirmatively and explicitly covers medically necessary health services for transgender people, including gender transition-related treatment

HEI Scored Questions

Equal Benefits

Additional Support for LGBTQ Employees