Mountain View Voice

News - July 9, 2010

New perk for 'Gayglers'

Google to compensate gay employees for higher taxes on partner benefits

by Daniel DeBolt

Last Thursday, some tax relief for gay employees was added to the long list of world-renowned benefits enjoyed by workers at Mountain View's Google, such as free food, massages and laundry services.

Google says its gay workers, or "Gayglers" as they call themselves, will be paid a little extra to make up for the higher taxes they must pay for health insurance for their partners. The move helps to ensure that gay Google employees are on equal footing with straight, married employees who do not have to pay taxes on health insurance for their spouses.

Google isn't saying how much the new benefit will cost or how many Google employees qualify, but a 2007 study by M.V. Lee Badget for the Williams Institute says that "employees with partners now pay on average $1,069 per year more in taxes than would a married employee with the same coverage."

Laszlo Bock, Google's vice president of people operations, told the New York Times that Google decided to offer the benefit after the disparity was brought to the company's attention by a gay employee.

That also spurred the company to examine its other benefits for disparities. In addition to covering the health insurance tax, Google will now allow gay employees to take up to 12 weeks off every year to care for their partners, just as straight employees are allowed to do for their spouses under the Family Medical Leave Act.

Google was also able to work with their insurance carrier to get rid of a one-year waiting period for gay employees before being able to obtain infertility benefits. Infertility is "now defined as the inability to conceive a child with no stipulations on trying for one year," wrote Googler Cynthia Yeung in the Official Google Blog post on the subject.

Google is not offering the domestic partner health insurance tax compensation to unmarried straight employees, who also pay the tax when covering their partners. Those employees can avoid the tax by getting married, the company says.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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