WI County Imposes Domestic Partner Benefits Mandate

September 22, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Government officials for a Wisconsin county now require contractors with agreements worth $5,000 or more to offer health benefits to the domestic partners of their employees.

A news report in the Madison, Wisconsin, Capital Times said the Dane County Board issued the mandate at a meeting last week. The county already offers domestic partner benefits to its own employees.

class=”strypgcp”> The ordinance also creates a registry for same-sex or other non-married domestic partners, a registry the city of Madison has had since 1990 but no other county in the state offers, the newspaper said. Domestic partners need to have been in a committed relationship for at least 90 days to register.

class=”strypgcp”> The ordinance, which had 23 co-sponsors, generated opposition from trade union representatives, who said the law will put them at a competitive disadvantage and hurt their collective bargaining ability.

class=”strypgcp”> According to the newspaper, the ordinance includes a “cash-equivalency” option, allowing companies that do not have domestic partner benefits to bid on county work as long as they pay employees with domestic partners the amount needed to cover what health benefits for the partner would cost.

class=”strypgcp”> Domestic partner benefits have been an issue over the last several years at state and local government agencies around the country (See NV Panel Approves State Employee Domestic Partner Benefits ).