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Question added to topic Human ResourcesSeptember 12, 2009

Can an employer request that married employees waive their healthcare coverage?

My wife works for a small business that's establishing a new health insurance benefit program. Can they request married staff to waive the enrollment since they are already covered by a spouse so that the single, non-covered employees can receive coverage? If yes, should they compensate the employees who waive the benefit, at the employers' request, in any other way?
The answer to this question is yes, they can do this. And no, they don't have to pay the employee anything extra for having waived coverage.

This is a fairly new practice--devised by insurance brokers, by the way. It may not seem at all fair; but it is legal to do.

While benefits are considered part of the compensation package when employers calculate the total cost of each employee, and while an employer is obligated to pay workers fairly for doing the same work, there is no specific legal requirement that the employer pay the employee anything extra for waiving insurance coverage, even though the employer required that the employee do it.

Now having said all of this, who knows what the future will hold? Laws may be passed to stop this practice at some point. But as of right now, there is no legal reason for an employer not to do this.

Penny is a seasoned human resources executive and consultant with over 25 years of diverse business experience in advising enterprise leaders on employment-related matters.

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