HR policy for equality
HR Policy on same sex Marriage

Facebook-RainbowDid you hear about ‘Celebrate Pride’ tool – a photo editing tool by Facebook? Many of you (including HR managers) may have even used this tool, without reading the fine print in your own HR policy (whether it is pro or against LGBT). Facebook’s idea was to turn your profile picture into rainbow flag (with this tool), to support ‘same-sex marriage’. The idea clicked. Millions of people used this tool and not only Facebook, twitter was also awash with rainbow.

Did netizens really mean it?

The kind of huge support, we witnessed on social networking websites, raises a big concern. Did we really mean it or it was just an ‘out of enthusiasm’ act, which immediately vanished? Following infographic by the CityTownInfo very clearly illustrates the not-so-good situation of LGBT community and scope of the Federal action:

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At one end, we see court rulings (almost across the world) in favor of ‘same sex marriage’, but at the other end, LGBT community still lives under societal ostracism. Nevertheless, after favorable court rulings, ‘same sex marriages’ will certainly lead to statutory protections for the LGBT community.

How will court rulings (in favor of LGBT community) affect your HR policy?

For employers of LGBT couples, legalizing ‘same sex marriage’ will primarily mean:

  1. Employee benefit plans and recognition of same-sex spouses in the same way as employers offer opposite-sex spouses.
  2. Requirement of more sensitive employer policies (especially for LGBT community) to prevent harassment or discrimination at the workplace.

How to make the workplace LGBT friendly?

Modern human resource management tools are smart enough to take care of such situation. These tools are flexible and HR managers can easily update or feed new policy guidelines. They may also instantly broadcast new changes and may make every employee acquainted with these changes. In addition, several steps may be effective. Some of them are listed here:

Handbooks: HR managers should distribute a handbook to extend information that same-sex spouse and opposite-sex spouse get equal beneficiary benefits. The company does not discriminate between them.

Change in tax forms: HR managers should understand that now same-sex couples can also jointly file their federal and state taxes. Therefore, such provision should be available in the W-4 forms.

Health insurance: If companies offer health insurance to their employees, they will have to make sure that new insurance forms spouses of both genders.

Other benefits: HR managers also have to ensure that all discretionary benefits extended by employers, including housing benefits, bereavement leave, tuition reimbursement, relocation benefits, and employee discount plans treat all legally married couples equally.

Author’s take

Psychologists observe that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are emotionally very sensitive, but are very creative. Fortune 500 companies, which strictly forbids LGBT discrimination, claim that their friendly approach towards LGBT community led to greater productivity. Therefore, let’s not wait for statuary orders or enforcement. HR managers should immediately correct their old HR manuals and make sure that every employee is getting equal opportunity.