On Friday October 17, same sex marriages became legal in Arizona. What are the changes that Arizona employers and their HR professionals need to be aware of?
1. The definition of spouse in employee manuals and handbooks. If a generic definition, such as “spouse” is used, there should not be a need to update. However, if a specific definition was used such as “wife” or “husband” the employee manual may need to be revised.
2. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) now covers same sex spouses. Accordingly, FMLA policy and notices may require modification. For private employers, FMLA still does not cover domestic partners, only married couples, and FMLA only applies to employers with 50 or more employees.
3. Insurance coverage needs to be offered to all qualifying employees and dependents.This includes all legally married couples.The marriage will be a qualifying life event and will trigger an open enrollment. Insurance carriers may require proof of marriage.
4. Federal and state tax forms may be updated to reflect the same sex couple’s new filing status.
5. Beneficiary forms for pension plans and life insurance may need to be changed to note “spouse” designation rather than “other”. Pension plan records need to be updated to show status as married and any authorization that require spousal consent will need the new spouse’s signature.
6. Any benefit that the company extends to heterosexual married couples should be extended to same-sex married couples.
In summary, with the advent of lawful same sex marriages, every person involved in HR should take a careful look at how this change affects your policies. If legal assistance is needed to review policies, our employment lawyers would be glad to help.
Kraig J. Marton heads the employment law department at the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg & Wilk. He assists employers and employees in complying with the many laws affecting employers. He also assists health professionals and others with issues related to medical marijuana. He can be reached at 602 248 1017 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cox Communications has recently appointed Larry Hofer as vice president of human resources for the Southwest region. As vice president, Hofer will manage and execute all major HR operations for Cox Communications in Arizona and Nevada.
Hofer, who previously worked as VP of Human Resources for the Oklahoma region, has been with Cox Communications for nearly six years. His leadership qualities and diligent work ethic contributed to Cox Oklahoma’s distinction as one of the Top Ten Best Places to Work, according to Business Journal of Oklahoma
Prior to his time in Oklahoma, Hofer served as VP of Human Resources in San Diego where he earned the reputation as an exceptional business partner and employee. Before joining the Cox Communications team, Hofer held numerous leadership positions with various technology and communication companies like Comcast, AT&T, IBM, Honeywell and Lexmark International.
Hofer graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A. in industrial organizational psychology. He also holds a B.A. in demography/sociology from Western Washington University; a master’s of labor and industrial relations from Michigan State University, a professional certification in Human Resources (SPHR) and is a graduate of NAMIC Executive Program at UCLA Anderson School of Business.
“We are very fortunate to have Larry joining the Southwest Region Senior Leadership team,” said Steve Rizley, senior vice president and region manager of Cox Communications Arizona. “His knowledge in the field of human resources is unsurpassed and with his guidance, our company will attract and develop the best talent in our industry. We look forward to the contributions Larry will undoubtedly make.”
Hofer currently resides in Scottsdale and has been involved with several nonprofit organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Neighborhood House, Asian Business Association and the YMCA.