In a recent Cartus Policy & Practices survey completed by 172 relocation managers from around the world, 75% of respondents indicated that they were providing international assignment benefits to same-sex partners. Though earlier Cartus surveys confirmed that same-sex benefits typically depend on whether visas can be obtained for destination locations, companies are increasingly placing more focus on how to support same-sex partners during relocation—both domestically and globally.
Some companies have already begun exploring potential policies and programs to meet the same-sex needs of their employees:
Defining the “Family Unit”
Some companies are redefining “family unit” to include “spouse/domestic partner,” rather than the traditional “husband and wife” description, where a spouse is defined as legally married per home country law.
A Single Point of Contact
Providing a single point of contact for your assignees creates a “case manager” environment in which they can openly raise questions and concerns about their situation and alleviate some of the pressure of sharing personal information with a manager who may be unaware of their personal circumstances.
Central Repository for Country Information
Countries around the world have very different legal, social, and immigration stances on same-sex couples. Maintaining a central repository of country-specific information for same-sex employees that includes information such as rights for gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals (including parental rights), and any associated immigration rules, can be incredibly useful for employees who are evaluating relocation assignments.
It’s critical for companies to manage employee expectations and be as clear as possible in all policy and process discussions. Some companies are creating forums where lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees can share personal experiences pertaining to their relocations and act as a support network, offering tips and advice to new assignees.
Some companies have explored revising policy considerations where a same-sex partnership is not legally recognized in the host country. Some are compensating same-sex couples for benefits that they may not be legally eligible for, such as tax breaks, pensions, or medical benefits.
Companies are encouraged to ensure that they have adequate support for same-sex employees when developing mobility policies to boost employee satisfaction and retention, as well as provide all employees with the opportunity to progress and develop.