It’s well know that because same-sex marriages are not recognized by the Federal government, gay and lesbian employees who wish to elect benefits for their respective partners (aka “Domestic Partnership“) must accept that their pay will be taxed for such coverage. This is to assume that the option for such coverage is even offered at all in states other than California.
In an effort to level the playing field, Google has taken an amazing step towards gay rights and equality by announcing that they will raise the pay of workers equal to that of the taxes they would have to pay for partner benefits, the very same benefits that are otherwise tax-free for their heterosexual peers. Google has also made other benefits available to their gay employees, again allowing them to have the same benefits offered to the non-gay employee population.
From the New York Times:
The company began to look at the disparity after a gay employee pointed it out, said Laszlo Bock, Google’s vice president for people operations (also known as human resources). Google, by the way, says its benefits team seriously considers any suggestions on how to expand its coverage.
“We said, ‘You’re right, that doesn’t seem fair,’ so we looked into it,” Mr. Bock said. “From that initial suggestion, we said, let’s take a look at all the benefits we offer and see if we are being truly fair across the board.” As a result, the company also decided to make a few other changes that would help gay employees, including eliminating a one-year waiting period before qualifying for infertility benefits and including domestic partners in its family leave policy — going beyond the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks’ leave in a one-year period to recover from a medical condition or to care for a relative.
There’s no question that Google is and has always been an employer of choice, but it is truly impressive that they are ensuring that ALL of their employees are treated fairly and equally.Here’s to hoping that other companies (and the Federal government) take notice and respond in kind.