The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has an article out today on their website (subscription may be required) about the effect that same-sex marriage laws and rulings are having on employers. The article compares California’s Proposition 8 initiative with Connecticut’s recent decision legalizing same-sex marriages.
As you will see, the reporter was kind enough to talk with me about the issue. Although I discussed some of the similar themes I’ve raised before, the contrast with California is pretty striking.
“Same-sex marriage in Connecticut is here and very likely is here to stay,” Daniel Schwartz, an attorney with Pullman and Comley in Hartford, Conn., told SHRM Online Nov. 18. …
However, Schwartz also noted that since Connecticut already had a civil union law, “this isn’t going to change that much if employers have had employees who have entered into civil unions.” From a practical point of view, employers need to give employees who have entered into civil unions the same benefits as they would to married couples, he explained.
He went on to say however, that where the differences may come is that “there are a lot of employees who did not enter into civil unions who will now get married.” He advised employers to take three steps in light of the change in the law:
• Review polices and make sure that they are non-gender or sexual orientation specific to account for same sex marriage. How do you do that? Use terms like “spouse,” instead of “husband and wife.”
• Update any anti-discrimination provisions to reflect that fact that employees who are part of a same-sex couple won’t be discriminated against.
• Look at benefits. Get a grasp on what the change will do to benefit plans. Look at how insurance companies are dealing with the new law. Make sure that summary plan descriptions and other documents (governing non-ERISA benefits) take into account same-sex marriage.
There’s a lot more in the article, so check it out here.
While you’re at it, be sure to check out the rest of SHRM’s website, which is in the midst of a pretty big overhaul. There are some great resources available and it’s always a pretty good source of information regarding legislative developments as well.