A Better Understanding of Employee Benefits for an Increasingly Diverse American Workforce

by Secretary Hilda Solis on July 26, 2011 · 11 comments

Last year, I wrote in “Sometimes, It Takes An Interpretation” that by making a clarification to the Family and Medical Leave Act, originally passed in 1993, we are taking into better consideration the changing nature of America’s households and workers.  Our clarification then means that today, a same-sex partner who shares in parenting, or an aunt who steps in for a mother called to active military duty, can take unpaid leave to ensure the care for a child at home.   

Today, we take another great step in better understanding the resources and benefits available to America’s workforce. 

For the first time, in order to better understand the benefits available to an increasingly diverse American workforce, this year’s National Compensation Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes information on domestic partner benefits, providing a better, fuller picture of employee benefits in workplaces across our nation.

The report shows that while 71% of all workers in private industry have access to health care plans, only about 1 in 4 such workers have access to a health care plan they can use to cover their same-sex or opposite-sex domestic partner. 

High wage earners and union workers are significantly more likely to have access to benefits for a domestic partner, while only a small percentage of low wage-earners, non-union workers and part-time workers have access to these benefits.

I commend the bureau’s Office of Compensation Levels and Trends for the successful completion of this year’s survey of more than 15,000 establishments in the public and private sectors. 

Similarly, I thank the groups and stakeholders that worked with the bureau to incorporate new questions on domestic partner benefits.  Together, we have made sure the National Compensation Survey truly reflects the diversity of work and workers in the United States.

See the full-report here: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ebs2.nr0.htm

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Frances Edwards July 27, 2011 at 9:21 am

What proof can a domestic partner present to an employer to prove that they are indeed the other person’s domestic partner? What type of ID can they present to connect the two?

2 Laurie Eiserloh July 27, 2011 at 11:10 am

In response to Frances Edwards question regarding proof of domestic partnership, I have seen employers require: (1) an affidavit of domestic partnership; (2) a utlitity bill or other document showing that the employee and the DP have resided at the same address for a certain amount of time. This can be a problem if the DP and the employee reside in different cities; (3) a few jurisdictions have a DP registery at the courthouse. The employer could request proof of registration. Much depends upon how your company defines DP. Email me directly if you’d like to talk. I’ve worked for two different large employers with DP benefits. Both have required the affidavit of domestic partnership signed by both partners.

3 'Stina July 27, 2011 at 4:15 pm

My employer requires a domestic partnership affidavit to be signed by the employee and the partner, notarized and accompanied by at least 2 of the following:

Credit card statement bearing both names
Lease agreement/mortgage bearing both names
Car loan/statement bearing both names
Investment account bearing both names
Will/Life Insurance policy bearing both names (designating one as the other’s beneficiary)

4 Add A Website July 28, 2011 at 3:56 am

You can certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. All the time follow your heart.

5 Gregg Stoerrle July 29, 2011 at 10:37 am

When my girlfriend finnaly landed a job we were able atleast get the children covered but because were not married i can not get coverage under her policy.It is hard because i have asmah and bronchitis and had great coverage until i blew the whistle with the understanding i was protected with OSHA 11C. I believe under OSHA it is called( The Employer protection act).
Gregg Stoerrle
PROUD NAVY DAD

6 K. Fagan July 29, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Why doesn’t the Federal government offer domestic partner benefits, particularly health insurance, to its employees?

7 Gregg Stoerrle July 30, 2011 at 6:55 am

Why are my comments always left awaiting moderation. I am an American, tax payer,registered voter,military dad.I feel my comments are on topic.
Is this not a goverment publication?Or are only certin comments accepted Ms Solis that put on a positive spin?

8 admin August 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm

K. – Thank you for your thoughtful question. Public Law 104-199, commonly known as the Defense of Marriage Act, enacted September 21, 1996, prevents the federal government from providing health insurance benefits to federal employees for a same-sex or opposite-sex domestic partner. Extending health insurance benefits under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program will require legislative change. However, President Obama issued a presidential memorandum on June 2, 2010, which led to the extension of several other new benefits to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees. These benefits include access to day care for children of employees’ domestic partners, travel and relocation allowances, and access to employee assistance programs, among others.

9 jeb August 6, 2011 at 9:21 am

access to health care is going to become out of reach for many more americans

10 Jenn Linsdale September 28, 2011 at 11:41 pm

While I do agree that legitimate partners and spouses should receive these types of benefits, wouldn’t this type of action be rife with fraud if all people were not as honest as you and !? For example, a couple of straight males or female roommates could demand these benefits as gay partners – even though it’s a declaration out of convenience? No proof or documentation needed!

11 Louella October 6, 2011 at 2:08 pm

i do believe in the healthcare system. however, why is it so difficult for us whenever the need arises? especially the tiers? its so easy for them to take it off our paychecks but extremely difficult to claim.

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