Establishing Domestic Partner Benefits

Domestic partner benefits are good for business:

  • Domestic partner benefits provide an inexpensive (1-3 percent increase in benefits cost) enhancement to the overall employee compensation package and have become one of the hallmarks of progressive companies that value diversity.
  • Domestic partner benefits are an important step toward equal pay for equal work.
    • Benefits comprise nearly 20 percent of overall compensation.
    • Without domestic partner benefits a significant portion of overall compensation, in the form of spousal benefits, is unavailable to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer workers.
  • Domestic partner benefits are an easy way to obtain a competitive advantage for talent and to drive recruitment and retention of dedicated employees. If one purpose of a benefits program is to provide a safety net for employees and their families, thereby enabling employees to focus more on their work, then a plan that does not include domestic partner benefits ignores a significant portion of the workforce. Offering domestic partner benefits ensures an employer is prepared for changing relationship-recognition laws for same-sex couples across the United States.

Writing a Proposal

When advocating for the provision of domestic partner benefits, it is important to present a well thought out and detailed proposal.
Research the topic thoroughly. Write a proposal that includes the following:

  • A definition or list of the benefits you are seeking. Find out from your human resources department or benefits enrollment documentation what kinds of benefits your employer already extends to the opposite-sex spouses of employees and seek to match those.
  • A justification for implementation in your organization. Include personal stories from employees who will be affected by the benefits.
  • A proposed definition of “domestic partner.”
  • An analysis of the projected cost (domestic partner benefits are not more expensive than spousal benefits, but the analysis must include headcounts of partners and partners’ eligible dependents) to employees and the employer.
  • A plan to implement and administer the benefits. Cover issues of confidentiality, tax and insurance implications and fraud.
  • Information on what your company’s competitors and suppliers have done in this area, with sample policies.
  • A detailed plan for announcing and rolling out the benefits to employees.
  • A detailed plan for revealing the policy to outside individuals, if desired.
  • A plan to respond to publicity, both positive and negative.

Industry Examples

Please feel free to use the following list of domestic partner benefits policies when drafting your own company’s workplace policy.