How Same-Sex Laws Affect Small Businesses

Since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage on June 26th, much attention has been given to small business owners who argue that the law conflicts with their right to religious freedom. However, along with business owners, many of those in the wedding industry, who have chosen to turn away customers rather than violate their religious principles, other small business owners are being affected by the new law as well. There are a few ways in which your small business may be affected by same sex marriage too.
 
 

 

Benefits

 
One of the perks of same sex marriage laws is that they allow benefits to be shared between same sex spouses. Since this is new territory, many small business owners may need to revise their benefits policies. An article on Entrepreneur.com titled “How the Gay Marriage Decision Affects All Small Businesses,” by Susan Solovic states, “If you work with insurance brokers or agents on these items, meet with them to make sure you fully understand the situation and your options. When you sit down with your employees, you want to be sure that you are well-informed so you can present them with the facts and correct options.” If your business hasn’t reviewed its benefits policies, it may be beneficial to sit down with your insurance professional to ensure that your policies are up to date.

 

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

 
Since the 1993 passage of the Family Medical Leave Act, better known as FMLA, employees are protected from losing their jobs for taking extended leave to care for an immediate family member. Previously, same sex couples were not guaranteed leave under the law. A blog post posted by The Bowen Law Group titled, “How the Legalization of Same Sex Marriage Affects Your Small Business” speaks of this change: “The FMLA stipulates that employees are allowed to take up to a 12-week leave of absence to care for a sick family member if they have accrued 1,250 hours of work over the previous 12 months. While this extended leave is unpaid, the law ensures that their job remains available upon their return. Some companies in Georgia previously took the position that a same-sex partner was not a spouse, thus the company did not have to offer FMLA to those employees. The law is now clear, however, that FMLA time must be offered to all married employees.”

Many of the ways in which small business owners may be affected by same sex marriage laws are in the realm of benefits and human resources. If you own a small business, it may be time to take an inventory of your policies to ensure that they comply with the laws.
 
 

 
This article was written by Alaina Brandenburger of Examiner.com for CBS Small Business Pulse.
 

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