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Employee Benefits & Policies Overview

This criteria is designed to familiarize your organization with best practices, from The Joint Commission and other sources, to promote equity and inclusion for LGBTQ employees.

Reviewing the practices implemented by other organizations and recommended by experts, your organization can identify and address gaps in your policies and practices. A healthcare organization’s LGBTQ employees play a vital role in ensuring LGBTQ patient-centered care by informally educating their co-workers about patient concerns, offering feedback about organizational policies and practices, and conveying to the local community your organization’s commitment to equity and inclusion.

It is critical that LGBTQ employees, like LGBTQ patients, receive equal treatment, particularly vis-à-vis health-related benefits and policies.  Competitive employer-provided benefits’ packages are critical to attracting and retaining talent. From healthcare coverage to retirement investments and more, ensuring LGBTQ-inclusive benefits to employees and their families is an overall low-cost, high-return proposition for businesses. In addition, equitable benefits structures align with the principle of equal compensation for equal work. Apart from actual wages paid, benefits account, on average, for approximately 30 percent of employees’ overall compensation. Therefore, employers should ensure that this valuable bundle of benefits is equitably extended to their workforce, irrespective of sexual orientation and gender identity. When denied equal benefits coverage, the cost to LGBTQ workers and their families is profound.

These policies are also informed by the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, or CEI. The CEI is the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

To receive credit in the HEI:

There are 15 scored questions in this section. In order to receive the full 20 points, your facility must have at least 7 or more of these best practices in place. Facilities that have 4 to 6 of these best practices in place will receive a partial score of 10 for this criterion.  

Scored best practices include:

Equal Benefits

  • Health insurance policy’s definition of spouse includes same sex spouses
  • Same documentation is required for enrollment of same and opposite sex spouses
  • Healthcare benefits are provided to domestic partners
  • COBRA-equivalent benefits are provided to domestic partners
  • FMLA-equivalent benefits allow employees to take family and medical leave to care for domestic partners as well as the children of a domestic partner, regardless of biological or adoptive status
  • Bereavement leave allowed in the event of the death of a domestic partner or their immediate family

Benefits and policies impacting transgender employees

  • Provide at least one health plan to all employees that explicitly covers medically necessary health services for transgender people, including gender transition-related treatment
  • Organization has written gender transition guidelines documenting supportive policies and practices on issues pertinent to a workplace gender transition

Additional support for LGBTQ employees

  • Organization has an officially recognized LGBTQ employee resource group
  • Organization has a diversity & inclusion office, diversity council or working group focused on employee diversity that specifically includes LGBTQ diversity as part of its mission (new)
  • Anonymous employee engagement or climate surveys allow employees the option to identify as LGBTQ
  • Anonymous employee engagement or climate surveys include question(s) related to LGBTQ concerns
  • Commemorate an “LGBTQ Holiday” at the facility
  • Have explicitly LGBTQ-inclusive hiring efforts
  • Organization has openly LGBTQ people serving in high level visible leadership positions (new)

View Employee Benefits and Policies Resources