Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA) conducted an e-survey in August 2010 on domestic partner benefits – as a follow-up their previous survey in 2004, done just after the legalization of same sex marriage in Massachusetts. This updated survey aimed to examine whether company policies have changed considerably since 2004. It was developed in partnership with faculty at the Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University.
According to latest survey, nearly 60% of respondents said they offered domestic partner benefits prior the 2004 legalization of same sex marriage in Massachusetts. The vast majority of those that offered domestic partner benefits prior to 2004 were already offering benefits to both same sex and opposite sex domestic partners.
After the legalization of same sex marriage, over 30% of respondents indicated they changed their benefits policies to include coverage for both same sex and opposite sex domestic partners. The most prevalent reason given for the change in policy was fairness, with potential legal liability and competitiveness in attracting qualified employees also cited as important factors.
Those respondents who cited they are considering extending domestic partner benefits not previously offered (sometime in the future) indicated their planned change in policy would be the extension of benefits to both same sex and opposite sex domestic partners. Again, the most prevalent reason given for the potential change in policy was fairness, with competitiveness in attracting qualified employees also cited as an important factor.
Lastly, nearly 70% of respondents indicated their domestic partner policies for employees WORKING in Massachusetts do not differ from those for employees working outside of Massachusetts, while nearly 80% indicated their domestic partner policies for employees LIVING in Massachusetts do not differ from those for employees living outside Massachusetts.
Overall, it appears that domestic partner policies for organizations in New England have not changed considerably since legalization of same sex marriage in MA, as the majority (60%) of respondents already had domestic partner benefits for both same sex and opposite sex partners) in place prior to the 2004 legalization of same sex marriage. However, those organizations (30% of respondents) that did change their benefits policy to extend coverage to all domestic partners did so most prevalently out of fairness as well as to remain competitive in attracting qualified employees to their organizations.
About the survey
Nearly 3,000 HR professionals, representing large and small companies in all industries within the region, as well as individuals providing products and services to the human resources community, comprise NEHRA's membership base.
A total of 158 NEHRA members responded to the online survey. It was conducted from July 29 to August 12, 2010.
NEHRA is New England's premier human resources association. Since 1985, NEHRA has provided HR professionals with programs, information and relationships that stimulate professional growth and enhance workplace contributions. The mission of the Northeast Human Resources Association is to lead, advance and influence the management of human resources and its impact on organizational success. For more information, visit www.nehra.com.
The Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University is internationally accredited in business and accounting by AACSB International (the Association to Advance the Collegiate Schools of Business). The Sawyer Business School is also accredited by NASPAA (the National Association of Schools and College of Public Affairs and Administration). With a dual mission of preparing successful leaders in global business and public service, the Sawyer Business School offers full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business administration, public administration and health administration. For more information, visit www.suffolk.edu/business.