Trend: Medical Benefits Provided to Non-Marital Partners

In spite of tax rules that do not permit pre-tax earnings to be diverted to medical benefits for anyone other than the taxpayer, a spouse, or a dependent child, Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper publisher, has announced a plan whereby employees will be eligible to acquire health benefits for unmarried domestic partners of the same sex as well as partners of the opposite sex.

The health insurance benefits paid for unmarried partners will not qualify for the pre-tax treatment that is available for traditional health benefits provided by an employer.

To qualify for the insurance benefit, Gannett employees will have to establish that a relationship of at least 12 months exists with the unmarried partner, and both partners will be required to sign an affidavit declaring that they share financial dependence.

Gannett spokeswoman, Tara Connell, stated that the company, which employees over 53,000 people at 98 newspapers, has been considering the policy for years.

Publishing giant Scripps has announced a similar plan, which applies to same-sex partners. "I think it's evident that it's important to offer this benefit to retain and attract talented people," said Tim Stautberg, vice president of investor relations at Scripps.

Does your company, or do any of your clients, have such a plan?