Employers worldwide are beginning to embrace the idea of a domestic partner employee by reorganizing their benefit packages to include coverage for domestic partners in order to stay competitive and retain current employees. Most often these benefits are an extension of the same ones offered to married employees. The only difference being that a marriage is not a requirement. Many are confused by what exactly a domestic partner is and readily assume it refers to an individual that is part of a same-sex relationship. When, in fact, it can refer to a variety of situations in which two people commit to and build a life together. Just as married couples do, they usually share bank accounts, financial obligations, home, meals, and a host of other things with one another. A domestic partner is defined as, “a person you live with and have sexual relations with, but are not married to” (Merriam-Webster.com, 2014).
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It was in 1986 that the living arrangements of a domestic partner were first described as two persons sharing a family household but are not joined in a traditional marriage, common-law marriage, or civil union. The rising cost of seeking medical attention is making it nearly impossible these days to live without insurance coverage. Not recognizing our employees that are in unmarried opposite and same sex relationships is creating unnecessary financial hardships and stress. Changing the current benefit plan to include domestic partners will create a happier more committed employee for the business. Happy employees are more productive and aid the bottom line. It is important to note, that if something should happen to an employee or their significant other that medical attention is easily and readily available; allowing the employee to return to work sooner. As an employer, we have a moral obligation to respond to the needs of our employees. We can start by allowing them to define in their own terms what a family is to them.
MCJAR, Inc. has suffered due to the loss of three of their high ranking positions resigning. The reasoning behind their resignation was due to lack of benefits being offered to their domestic partners. As in all positions the human resources person, Keri Miller, has posted the open position with much success. She had found three successful candidates to fill the positions with high qualifications, but all three had turned down the job once they learned about the lack of benefits being offered to those in domestic partnerships. Once finding out the candidates had turned down the positions, Ms. Miller had created a survey to give out to all employees to complete and turn in. The survey asked about how they felt about the current benefit package being offered to all employees at MCJAR, Inc.
The results of the survey showed that those that were in a domestic relationship were unhappy of the benefits. That those in domestic partnerships are currently looking for work elsewhere because they feel they are not being treated fairly. Ms. Miller is understanding of the restriction on the benefits being offered due to the budget concerns. Ms. Miller also understands that the cost of the benefits may be minimal, just need to research the cost of adding domestic partnership benefits to the existing plan. Ms. Miller is also concerned to how the public will perceive the company unless the concerns of benefits being offered to those in a domestic partnership are resolved. Key Problems
Primarily, the budget is already strained due to the comprehensive benefits package we currently offer our employees. We must carefully weigh the cost of providing benefits to those in a domestic partnership, not only for our current employees, but potential new hires as well. If we are to make room, where can we make these adjustments? Will they be from a specific department, from employees’ pay, or perhaps we need to scale down our benefits package to make room for additional benefactors. Each option we look at has many different consequences, we may lose employees or productivity due to our lack of foresight.
In addition, we must consult and potentially alter our corporate policies and if possible those of Federal and State as well. Federal law will be the most simple to circumnavigate if there is any rebuttal, but having the proper documentation will be the key to success. State law will also require the same attention. Correct wording is crucial for ensuring equal authority and proper application of power of attorney. Lastly, we need to adjust the new benefits package to match the modified policies and procedures. This includes everything from new hire training, corporate office signage, and our own interweb support. Finally, and most complicated is the reworking our benefits package with our health service providers, and insurance companies. We need to make sure that each person is covered with the same benefits. We also need to make sure that we can lower or maintain our current deductible with the increase in the number of patients being seen, and consequent incidents being filed. This process can take be lengthy at times and will be battled on two fronts. First is the unhappy employees without benefits, and the other is insurance companies fighting to make themselves greater profits. Solutions
Providing domestic partner benefits will give the company a competitive edge, improve employee morale, and create an equal business environment, with minimal additional cost to the company’s already strained budget. According to the Fickewirth Benefits Advisors (2012), website the majority of the nation’s largest companies provide benefits to the domestic partners of their employees. This trend is increasing in order to retain and attract talented employees. A domestic partner benefit plan can yield to employee’s satisfaction and, therefore, produce a greater willingness to stay and recommend the company to others. This can be of great advantage because it can improve employee productivity. Employees will also feel that they have a safety net for their families thereby allowing them to better focus on work. Employers have raised the arguments about high cost, but despite such perception the overall cost of adding these benefits is quite low.
In the end, implementing the new domestic partner plan will help this corporation to thrive. Solutions are listed as follows: Implementing a new domestic partner benefits plan for all employees Current employees are looking elsewhere since they have no access to domestic benefits. The way to rectify this problem is to implement domestic partner benefits plan. Before implementing this plan, Human Resource Director Keri Miller needs to have a private meeting with all managers involved in this matter along with a financial advisor. With everyone present, these topics can be thoroughly discussed and changed as needed, such as federal, state, and corporate policies or the application of a reasonable savings plan. Some existing benefits can be cut, but in the end the financial advisor will try to use the proper solutions to make sure the company is not affected in a negative manner that can hurt the morale of employees, the company’s profit or production.
An expert on the health benefits package needs to be also present in order to obtain the right guidance on how to rework the benefits plan with all health service providers and insurance companies. Executing things in this manner will ensure that the business can safely implement the new plan and be sure that it can afford to extend benefits to domestic partners. Once all issues are addressed and the plan is given approval, a meeting should be held to inform all employees. The companywide meeting will be arranged to discuss this issue with employees who have domestic partners and are interested in the plan. The Human Resources Director should direct the meeting along with other assistant managers that can assist employees after the meeting has ended. During this meeting, the new plan can be addressed and encouraging words used to assure employees that the company cares about them and their needs. It demonstrates that the company values equality among their employees.
After the discussion, the manager can have a space of time for questions and answers. This encourages good communication between employees and managers. The assistant managers can have a few tables set up at the back of the room so that when the meeting has concluded employees that have more in depth questions or issues they can discuss them privately. Employees can obtain further guidance in the subject if needed and also have the opportunity to update and complete paperwork needed for enrollment in the new domestic partner benefits plan. As employees are exiting managers can hand out new surveys regarding the new benefits and turn them in the following day. This survey will ensure that the company has proper feedback from employees that state how satisfied they are with the changes being made to the benefits package. Modifications can then be made accordingly if needed, to ensure that employees are fully satisfied in this matter and all other areas as well. Having good communication and treating everyone well will make certain that there is a positive work environment in the business and thus improving it greatly.
Send letters to former employees informing them of new plan
Following the implementation of the new domestic partner benefits plan, past employees who resigned due to this subject should also be informed and properly contacted. Letters can be sent to former employees notifying them of the newly offered domestic partner benefits and extend an invitation for them to return to the company. Promote the recently implemented Domestic Partners Benefits Plan Publicize to all outside sources that a domestic partner benefit plan has been implemented. This includes updating the company’s website and other sources that promote employment for MCJAR Inc. The quick and timely release of this exciting information regarding the renovation of our company offered benefits may inspire many potential new hires to apply for employment opportunities and decrease the amount of current vacancies. As a result from all these changes, the company’s productivity and success will increase as a whole. Recommendations
As a condition of employment, most employers require their employees to register for company provided benefits. It is recommended that MCJAR, Inc. develop a list of set criteria that would define an eligible domestic partnership. Common criteria used by many employers today are that the couple must live and maintain a home together for a minimum of six months and can provide proof. Next, financial interdependency must also be proved. They both must be at least 18 years of age and not legally married to anyone. MCJAR, Inc. has the leisure of choosing their own criteria and should do so as soon as possible. Offering domestic partner benefits will help MCJAR, Inc. reflect diversity as a company. It will also help recruit and retain employees, and boost employee satisfaction with very little additional cost.
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