Study: Domestic Benefit Distribution Up Considerably Since 2001

February 3, 2005 ( - Thirty-one percent of employers now offer domestic partner benefits, up considerably from the 19% who did so in 2001.

In a study by Mellon’s Human Resources & Investor Solutions (HR&IS) of employers with an average of 5,000 employees, it was found that there has been a significant increase in the number of companies offering domestic partner benefits in the past few years. For the survey, domestic partners were defined as either same-sex or opposite-sex non-married partners, according to a news release. Sixty-six percent of employees who use such benefits are same-sex partners, however.

Domestic partner benefits are a new thing for American corporations, with 60% saying they have only been offered in the past five years. The most common benefits offered to such partners now are medical, dental, and prescription drug coverage, according to the study.

However, domestic partner benefits often have strict qualifications. Seventy-three percent of respondents to the survey require a domestic partnership to exist for a minimum period of time, while 88% require proof of such a partnership.

Larger companies are more likely to provide such benefits, the survey found, with 50% of employers with over 5,000 employees dolling out domestic benefits in 2004.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court same-sex partner ruling seems to have created quite an interest in such benefits, according to the news release, with 28% of employers fielding questions on the topic. However, 82% do not have a plan in place to deal with benefits for couples with same-sex marriage certificates from the Bay State.

Not surprisingly, 49% of companies with employees in Massachusetts extend medical benefits to same-sex married couples. However, only 42% have systems in place to handle various tax treatments applying to such couples at the multiple levels of government.

The Mellon study is available for $200 from the HR&IS department at 201-553-6400.