HR Management & Compliance

Colorado civil union law means change for employers

The Colorado Civil Union Act, which takes effect May 1, requires changes in employer-provided insurance plans and makes changes to the state’s workers’ compensation law.

Effective for plans issued, delivered, or renewed on or after January 1, 2014, a party to a civil union may cover his or her partner as a dependent. Employers providing insurance through fully insured plans must offer the same coverage for an employee’s civil union partner that it provides for an employee’s spouse. Unless an employee can claim a civil union partner as an IRS-eligible dependent, the employee must pay federal taxes on the fair market value of group healthcare benefits provided for the partner through a private employer.

The Civil Union Act also affects workers’ compensation by making survivor benefits and wage payments that are available to spouses also available to civil union partners.

The new law allows any two unmarried adults, regardless of gender, to enter into a civil union, and partners in such unions have the same legal rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities as spouses in a marriage. A same-sex marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, or substantially similar legal relationship between two persons that is legally created in another jurisdiction also will be recognized as a civil union in Colorado.

The law and its impact on employers will be covered in more detail in a future issue of Colorado Employment Law Letter.