For the most part, no, employers are not required to provide domestic
partner benefits - in fact, employers aren't required to provide
*employee* benefits, either.
Last year, fewer than 5,000 employers nationwide offered domestic
"Domestic partner benefits are benefits offered by employers to the
unmarried domestic partners of their employees. Benefits can be
offered to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples or to same-sex
couples only. Benefits offered to domestic partners can include a wide
range of benefits including medical benefits, pension benefits, family
leave, and relocation assistance to name a few. In 1990, fewer than
two-dozen U.S. employers offered domestic partner coverage. This year
approximately, 3,693 U.S. employers, including 123 of the Fortune 500,
offer domestic partner health coverage. Many companies have adopted
domestic partner benefits to compete for the best candidates and it is
expected that this trend will only increase."
Domestic Partner Benefits - by Gwen Hannah - September, 2002
"A 1997 survey by KPMG Peat Marwick found that 13 percent of U.S.
employers extended health care benefits to domestic partners."
What are domestic partner benefits
According to the Human Rights Campaign, 5,819 US employers offer
health benefits for domestic partners as of this year. You can find
the complete list of US employers who offer domestic partner benefits
Domestic Partner Benefits
In a few areas local law requires certain employers who provide
employee benefits to extend them to domestic partners as well:
"In 1996, the city of San Francisco passed the nation's first equal
benefits ordinance, which requires employers that contract with the
city government to offer the same benefits to employees' domestic
partners as they offer to their legal spouses. Since then, these
jurisdictions have passed similar laws: Los Angeles; Seattle;
Berkeley, Calif.; Oakland, Calif.; San Mateo County, Calif.; Tumwater,
Wash., and Minneapolis. These laws have led more than 3,000 employers
to provide equal benefits to employees' unmarried partners."
Which cities require contractors to offer DP benefits?
"In recent years, however, more employers, in a variety of industries,
have begun offering domestic-partner benefits. The increase may be
attributed to recent legislation and court decisions which require
some employers to provide domestic-partner benefits. Even without a
legal requirement, employers are considering offering domestic-partner
benefits, in the interests of retaining employees and recruiting new
employees. In deciding whether to do so, employers must weigh the
complex legal and practical issues carefully.
The threshold question is whether an employer is obligated to offer
domestic-partner benefits. Such obligations may arise from state law,
local ordinance or the employer's own policies. For example, effective
June 1, 1997, a San Francisco ordinance requires all companies doing
business under contract with the city to provide the same employment
benefits to the domestic partners of their employees as they provide
to spouses, in all of their locations, for the duration of the
Domestic-Partner Benefits Plans Raise Legal Issues
by Bruce J. Kasten and Edward J. Pisarcik
June 08, 1998 - The National Law Journal
In both Maine and California, insurers are required by state law to
offer domestic partner plans. Employers, however, are under no
obligation to purchase this option for employees. By contrast, the
state of Virginia *prohibits* offering domestic partner benefits.
In the District of Columbia, employers that offer domestic partner
benefits may not discriminate based on sexual orientation - those that
offer domestic partner benefits to opposite sex couples must offer
them to same sex couples, and vice versa, but no companies in the
District of Columbia are required to offer these benefits at all.
Health Insurance Laws
To stay updated on current news and trends in domestic partner
benefits, including which companies now offer such benefits and what
proposed laws are before state and federal legislatures, you might
want to keep an eye on The Human Rights Campaign's WorkNet:
Hope this helps!
Search terms: [ "domestic partner benefits" require ]