Walmart to offer same-sex partners benefits

Walmart to offer employment benefits to same-sex couples - domestic partners

Well, this is a big deal.

Yesterday Walmart employees received a memo from Sally Welborn, Walmart’s Senior VP of Benefits:

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.

The memo didn’t stop there, though. Welborn’s memo also made note of several other unrelated changes to the company’s benefits plan and then adds this:

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.

The Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as “ObamaCare”) inextricably linked health insurance with employment. As such, for our associates for whom we offer health insurance, we want to be sure we are providing access to as many individuals and their families as possible.

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.

Walmart has 1.3 million U.S. employees and is the largest employer outside the Department of Defense.

I don’t shop at Walmart. For many reasons. However, I applaud this move by America’s largest private employer and certainly my opinion feels a shift due to these policy shifts.

Good for Walmart.

Walmart to offer same-sex partners benefits
Screen capture of memo details inclusion of domestic partners in company benefits
Click image to enlarge.

(via JMG)