A few days back, during one of the team meetings, we were being apprised about McKinley’s new company policy on ‘Relocation’. During that discussion, domestic relocation benefits that usually apply to spouses, parents or dependent children of employees were obviously mentioned. However, what piqued my interest was that one line, “As most of you here are unmarried, you can avail the benefits for your partner, be it your girlfriend or boyfriend”. This reminded me of an article I read about how certain Fortune 500 companies in the US are providing Domestic Partner Benefits either to same-sex couples or to both same-sex and opposite-sex (unmarried, heterosexual) couples. This means, that the employees in these companies don’t have to be in wedlock with their significant other to avail partner benefits.
However, in the Indian context, where most organizations are still toying with this idea, asking for a domestic partner benefit can be as appalling as asking ‘Is climate change even real?’ So, unless you’ve sealed and closed the deal with an official stamp, your relationship doesn’t hold much ground. But, with changing times where the millennials and Gen-Z are choosing to marry late or not marry at all or aren’t legally allowed by the state to get married, how feasible it is to deny them of partner benefits?
Employers have to pay attention to trends and movements in society. Surely, twenty years ago, ‘Domestic Partner Benefits’ was a radical idea and companies would say, “We can’t afford to do it.” Now, companies can’t afford not to! If employers in your field are offering these benefits, you don’t want to be the last one to do it. Because, 20 years from now, this issue will seem open-and-shut to a new generation. So, you don’t want to be perceived as having gone against the grain by jumping on the bandwagon very late. Modern-day relationships require modern workspaces with policies that truly promote work-place diversity and inclusivity. Several companies in India, including the Godrej Group, Accenture and IBM, offer medical insurance to same-sex partners of their LGBTQ employees. However, most companies do not provide benefits to unmarried or live-in partners of straight employees.
McKinley & Rice is definitely among the firsts in India who is pushing the envelope and encroaching on the traditionally forbidden territory by extending relocation partner benefits to unmarried couples as well. With the advent of the new decade, it’s high time now that more corporates include some sort of partner benefits in their compensation plans. Doing so not only puts a firm out there on the map for being a liberal organization but also helps attract and retain good talent. Also, if you’re wondering that providing such benefits would increase an organization’s costs exorbitantly, fret not! According to a study done by Forbes, the benefits come at a small cost. Covering same-sex couples raises overall health insurance costs by less than 1% while covering both same-sex and opposite-sex couples increases cost by up to 3%.
With evolving relationship dynamics and aspirations, providing partner benefits policy has become one of the hallmarks of a progressive company. What do you think?