Wal-Mart expands benefits to include same-sex domestic partners
STAFF REPORTS | BENTONVILLE, Arkansas -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it now will extend its health care benefits to its U.S. workers' domestic partners, including those of the same sex.
The nation's largest private employer said Tuesday that the changes were made so it could have one uniform policy for all 50 states at a time when some states have their own definitions of what constitutes domestic partnerships and civil unions.
In a memo sent out Monday by Sally Welborn, Walmart's Senior Vice President of Benefits, to all employees, Welborn stated:
This week our associates will receive a pre-enrollment postcard at their homes announcing the dates for annual enrollment and providing highlights of the 2014 benefit offerings. Among the information highlighted on the postcard: We will cover domestic partners in the medical, dental, vision, life, critical illness and accident plans. This means Walmart will offer these benefits to an associate’s same- or opposite-sex spouse or unmarried partner. For details on who qualifies and some important tax considerations, you’ll find more information on WalmartOne.com/postcard.She added:It’s a business decision, not a moral or political decision. We operate in 50 states, hundreds of municipalities and Puerto Rico, and as clarified under the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), each of these states are developing different definitions of marriage, domestic partner, civil union, etc. By developing a single definition for all Walmart associates in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, we are able to ensure consistency for associates across our markets.[...]Given the diverse world we live in today, a comprehensive benefit package that includes domestic partner benefits appeals to the contemporary workforce. Many companies, including most of our competitors, already offer spouse/partner benefits to their employees. Of 30 retail competitors, all but two (Publix and Stop and Shop union plan) provide either same- or opposite-sex domestic partner coverage.Your behavior matters. The words you use also matter. We are counting on you to be thoughtful, supportive and understanding of multiple viewpoints. Your visibility can make a big difference to how associates feel.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based discounter has 1.3 million full-time and part-time U.S. workers. More than half of the workers participate in health care plans, according to a company spokesperson.
Employees will be able to enroll their domestic partners from Oct. 12 through Nov. 1.