5 Most controversial employee benefits
What originally was seen as a small detail in President Obamas health care reform law, determining how to provide birth control to women employed by the Catholic Church has ballooned into a polarizing sound-off among policymakers, religious leaders, and a bombastic radio host.
Last month, a federal judge ruled that the government could not deny employee spousal benefits to the wife of a lesbian court employee, thereby finding the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Many private employers already provide benefits to same-sex couples and domestic partners, though they must make special considerations for tax purposes.
Pension contracts with public employees and unions have suffered attacks from citizens and state-leaders in recent years due to the recession and government-budget concerns. Although many private-sector pensions already have closed benefits to new entrants, they continue to appear in the news, such as American Airlines attempt to terminate pensions for 130,000 workers.
Still a taboo topic for some, employee benefits that focus on the health needs of transgendered workers are becoming more popular. In fact, one-third of major employers now offer transgendered employees coverage for gender-reassignment surgery.
Despite restrictions on annual dollar limits of health plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services has permitted some employers, such as McDonalds, to obtain temporary waivers so they can continue to offer health plans with limited benefits (including so-called mini-med plans) until health insurance exchanges begin facilitating coverage in 2014.
Employers tread a thin line ensuring their benefits and program offerings are compliant with laws and regulations and respectful of a diverse population of employees. Sometimes, these debates go beyond water cooler chit-chat and enter the larger, mainstream discussion. EBN has compiled five employee benefits that have spurred caustic debate, both inside and outside the HR/benefits sphere. [Images: Thinkstock]