Partners Task Force for Gay & Lesbian Couples
Demian, director   ||   206-935-1206   ||   demian@buddybuddy.com   ||   Seattle, WA

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Requesting Benefits:
How to Go About Getting Them
© 2003, Demian


Commonly, domestic partner workplace benefits come about because of requests to management from employees or from the personnel (or human resources) department. Partners Task Force has been contacted in equal numbers by these two groups for benefits information. With or without a worker request, management will sometimes ask a personnel officer to do the research to set up benefits.

Even when there is an interest in these benefits from management, gaining benefits involves communicating with many levels of the corporate structure, as well as insurance carriers, and the process can take anywhere from six months to three years.

Suggestions to Help Win Benefits at Your Workplace

  • Assess Your Environment
    Ask the personnel department if there is any movement in the works to offer benefits, or if benefits or health plan contracts are under reevaluation. If so, ask how you can assist.
  • Get Allies
    • One
      Do not make the request alone. Find at least two others to help with one aspect or another. Opposite-sex couples benefit in far greater numbers than same-sex couples — they should share in the work to help get these benefits.
    • Two
      A supplemental tactic would be to make a short vision statement about the need for benefits to workers and about the value of these benefits to your employer. Ask everyone to sign it. They don't need to do any research or other work, just allow them to back your efforts.
    • Three
      Perhaps less intimidating to an employer than a signed vision statement, would be if many employees were encouraged to individually request an expanded benefit plan for themselves or for their co-workers. This may be harder to get employees to do, but would also show a broad interest.
  • Make a Paper Trail
    Make your requests for benefits in writing. Encourage written responses. In writing, ask for specific reasons if your request is rejected.
  • Distribute Relevant Data
    Bring the most pertinent information to the decision-makers at your workplace. Use the data from our Web site — Partners Task Force — and other sources.
Rationale

  • Helps Employee Recruitment
    Providing domestic partner benefits is an excellent way to attract valuable employees.
  • Helps Keep Employees
    With less to worry about regarding protecting their partners, a worker is more likely to stay with an employer and also to be more productive.
  • Promotes Employee Loyalty
    Providing domestic partner coverage for an employees’ same-sex partner communicates to lesbian and gay employees that they are full and valued participants in the workforce. It promotes employee morale.
  • Fairness
    Providing benefits to all kinds of families promotes equality. Fair treatment promotes a workplace atmosphere that feels safe and nurturing, which, in turn, allows for greater productivity.
  • Good Policy
    If a company has adopted policies of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, then it should be consistent and not bar same-sex couples from access to benefits.
  • Helps Employees
    Benefits can account for a significant percentage (more than 25 percent) of total compensation. Most employers have traditionally offered benefits to employees’ spouses, even though basing employee benefits on marriage is not a legal requirement. Offering benefits to all couples would allow for equal job compensation.
  • Promotes Brand Loyalty
    Adoption of benefits is often warmly received by non-employee gay men, lesbians, their friends and relations, and other fair-minded consumers.




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