A Better Understanding of Employee Benefits for an Increasingly Diverse American Workforce

Ed. Note: Cross-posted from (Work in Progerss)

Last year, I wrote in “Sometimes, It Takes An Interpretation” that by making a clarification to the Family and Medical Leave Act, originally passed in 1993, we are taking into better consideration the changing nature of America’s households and workers.  Our clarification then means that today, a same-sex partner who shares in parenting, or an aunt who steps in for a mother called to active military duty, can take unpaid leave to ensure the care for a child at home.   

Today, we take another great step in better understanding the resources and benefits available to America’s workforce. 

For the first time, in order to better understand the benefits available to an increasingly diverse American workforce, this year’s National Compensation Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes information on domestic partner benefits, providing a better, fuller picture of employee benefits in workplaces across our nation.

The report shows that while 71% of all workers in private industry have access to health care plans, only about 1 in 4 such workers have access to a health care plan they can use to cover their same-sex or opposite-sex domestic partner. 

High wage earners and union workers are significantly more likely to have access to benefits for a domestic partner, while only a small percentage of low wage-earners, non-union workers and part-time workers have access to these benefits.

I commend the bureau’s Office of Compensation Levels and Trends for the successful completion of this year’s survey of more than 15,000 establishments in the public and private sectors. 

Similarly, I thank the groups and stakeholders that worked with the bureau to incorporate new questions on domestic partner benefits.  Together, we have made sure the National Compensation Survey truly reflects the diversity of work and workers in the United States.

See the full Employee Benefits in the U.S. report.

Hilda L. Solis is Secretary of the Department of Labor.

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