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October 8, 2010

BGSU adds domestic partner benefits

Bowling Green--Bowling Green State University on October 1 became the eighth state university in Ohio to provide domestic partner benefits to its full-time employees.

The board of trustees passed the change unanimously, with no discussion.

Trustee Debra Ryan, who introduced the measure, noted that it will increase the university’s ability to recruit and retain qualified faculty, as well as working towards diversity.

The domestic partner benefits will only cover same-sex couples. The school’s vice president for human resources, Rebecca Ferguson, pointed out that opposite-sex couples have the option of marrying.

She also said that three staff members have left because of the lack of benefits, but another was convinced to stay when told that trustees were likely to pass them this semester.

“To continue not offering benefits to domestic partners impacts our ability to attract and retain high-quality faculty and staff today and into the future,” she said, recommending the addition to the trustees.

The benefits will take effect on January 1. To take advantage of them, the couple must have been living with each other for at least six months and demonstrate financial interdependence. The employee will also be required to enroll in his or her domestic partner’s employer-offered health plan as primary coverage if it is equivalent. That requirement is also in place for opposite-sex married couples.

The change is expected to cost the university $80,000, compared to $750,000 the school will pay to add adult children of employees, as mandated by state and federal law.

In addition to health insurance coverage, the university will also extend its education fee waiver program to same-sex domestic partners and their dependent children, as well as allowing employees to take medical leave for partners.

The move brings Bowling Green in line with seven other four-year state schools: the University of Cincinnati, Miami University, Ohio University, Ohio State University, Cleveland State, Youngstown State and the University of Toledo.

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