Domestic Partner Benefits Policies in North Texas
HR professionals are facing certain professional difficulties relating to the determination of benefit packages, specifically health insurance to dependents who are eligible other than the employees themselves. Those closest to the employee, commonly considered “immediate” members of one’s family have traditionally been accepted, and at larger corporations even those not married have been added to the eligibility list for coverage as a part of the benefits package. While there seems to be a fairly clear understanding of race and gender issues at a national level, the same cannot be said for gay, lesbian bi-sexual and transgendered Americans (GLBT). Unfortunately there is inconsistencies regarding non-discrimination by state and from a federal standpoint which only muddies the water even further lessening the ability to have a clear path on this issue.
Survey results (150 human resource (HR) professionals from eight Society for Human Resource Management chapters in North Texas) declared that approximately 30 percent have a sexual orientation portion in the documents of their respective policies. Only about 12 percent of those same respondents cited the provision of benefits for same-sex partnerships. It is worth noting that from an American system standpoint, benefits are a matter of employment, whereas the majority of industrialized nations view healthcare as a function of citizenship. This only adds to the tumultuous nature at hand. Of the 137 surveyed, approximately 91 percent provide health insurance for the respective spouse of the employee. This figure is contrasted with 15 organizations providing health insurance to opposite-sex partners and 18 organizations which provide health insurance for same-sex partners of employees. Some drawbacks to this study are provided by the fact that this was only undertaken in Texas, so it does not reflect a national sample for the United States. Further, the laws in Texas are not generalizable for the simple fact that (as stated earlier) laws differ from state to state. Future research would clearly provide a larger swath of both respondents and variety of respondents with accompanying information regarding company metrics about GLBT policies and employee statistics. Future research needs to carry over into other states to create a more balanced and comprehensive view of policies, coverage, and legal structures.
Thanks to Steve Silva, Graduate Assistant, Boise State University, for writing this original abstract/summary of the paper.
Wanek, Jim; Kaupins, Gundars; and Coco, Malcolm. (2011). "Domestic Partner Benefits Policies in North Texas". International Journal of Business and Public Administration, 8(1), 34-47.