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Domestic Partner Benefits
National Summary
What is a domestic partnership? The term "domestic partnership" generally refers to an unmarried couple, either of the same or opposite sex. The laws in some states now permit same-sex marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships for same-sex or opposite-sex couples. An employer's policy decisions regarding these relationships will be shaped by state and federal laws, business needs, and a desire for an inclusive corporate culture. Policy decisions most often arise in the context of extending existing health insurance and other benefits to domestic partners.
Although benefits may not be required by law, many employers voluntarily offer benefits such as family and medical leave covering same-sex spouses, civil union partners, and domestic partners. This trend is driven by several factors, including changing demographics, the desire to be fair, workplace diversity, and the need to improve employee morale. There are a number of legal ramifications, including tax issues, to consider if an organization intends to offer benefits to domestic partners.
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