John Seelmeyer

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February 16, 2014
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Domestic-partner health coverage more common, survey says

Employers in Northern Nevada are moving fairly quickly to offer health coverage to domestic partners, a new survey finds.

About 35 percent of employers who responded to a survey conducted by the Nevada Association of Employers say they now provide coverage for domestic partners.

As recently as 2009, a similar survey found that only 14 percent offered coverage for domestic partners.

James V. Nelson, the executive director of the Nevada Association of Employers, said the growth in coverage of domestic partners is all the more striking because it came during a period in which employers made few changes in their benefits packages.

The most recent survey finds, for instance, that the number of employers who currently provide health insurance — 94 percent in a survey conducted late last year — is essentially unchanged from surveys conducted in 2009 and 2011.

The percentage of employers providing dental insurance, meanwhile, stands at 94 percent. That’s the same as the 2009 number, although it had dipped to 89 percent in the 2011 survey.

The Nevada Association of Employers survey drew responses from about 100 companies. While the association serves companies statewide, most of its members are employers in northern Nevada.

The most recent survey showed a downward drift in the popularity of 401(k) retirement plans as cornerstones of benefit packages.

Seventy-five percent of the companies responding to last year’s survey said they offer 401(k) program. That’s down from 82 percent in 2009 and 77 percent in 2011.

The percentage of companies that aren’t offering an employer match to employees’ 401(k) contribution, meanwhile, stood at 47 percent. That’s up from 45 percent in 2009 and 44 percent in 2011.

The big companies that responded to the survey — those with 1,000 or more employees — were unanimous in providing 401(k) benefits. Slightly less than 75 percent of small-company respondents provide the benefit.

Vacation policies, which many companies tightened during the recession, haven’t fully returned to their levels before the downturn.

The survey found that 30 percent of the responding companies provide two weeks of paid vacation to workers who’ve completed a year of service. That compares with 40 percent in 2009, and 25 percent in 2011.

About 20 percent of the companies responding to the survey last autumn require two years of service before they grant two weeks of paid vacation. That compares with 33 percent in 2009 and 36 percent in 2011.

Employers generally view benefits packages as an important tool to attract and retain top workers. Many have worried that the improving local economy is likely to bring higher turnover as workers who hunkered down during the recession now feel safe to lift their heads and seek other opportunities.

The survey by the Nevada Association of Employers finds, however, that turnover rates haven’t yet moved substantially.

Forty percent of the respondents last autumn estimated their company’s annual turnover rate at less than 5 percent. That compares with 26 percent who said they had minimal turnover in 2009 and 49 percent who reported less that 5 percent turnover in 2011.

Higher turnover rates — 10 to 20 percent annually — were reported by 26 percent of the respondents in the 2013 survey.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jun 27, 2014 04:37PM Published Feb 16, 2014 12:55AM Copyright 2014 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.