Dear Mr. X:
As an ABC Hospital employee since 1980, I have appreciated access to various benefits offered by the hospital. In December 2000, I adopted my daughter, K***, and realized the inequity in benefits offered adoptive parents.
The ABC Hospital provides significant benefits to families for the birth of a child, including full coverage of medical expenses associated with the birth, and paid leave time. If a child enters a family by adoption, however, the very substantial expenses involved (typically $8,000 to $30,000) are not covered by medical or other insurance and must be paid directly by the employee. In addition, there is not a paid leave time benefit available to adoptive parents.
During recent years, adoption benefits have generated a great deal of interest in the workplace. Employers and employees are questioning the equity of policies that provide time off and other benefits for those who give birth, but fail to meet the needs of employees who adopt. In 1997, the National Adoption Center and the Center for Work and Family at Boston College conducted a national survey on, " Employer Adoption Benefits." Overall, the survey findings revealed that adoption is an important issue in many organizations; and that 64% of employers offer financial assistance for adoption, while 37% of employers offer paid leave time for adoption.
Financial assistance and paid leave time are critical to the success of an adoption. By making it easier for employees to adopt, an employer acknowledges the importance of families for children and may encourage more employees to consider adoption as a way to create and build families.
With less than ½ of 1% of any employee population using adoption benefits during a year, it costs employers very little to enhance their image as family-friendly.
While maternity benefits are standard in most health care programs, adoption benefits have a long way to go, yet are equally important to provide. I am proposing that ABC Hospital offer an adoption benefits package, which includes paid leave time, financial reimbursement, and is comparable to the maternity benefits offered. I think I speak for all employees blessed by adoption, when I say we would greatly appreciate your consideration of this important issue.
Enclosed, please find the following publications from the National Adoption Center (www.adopt.org):
-Forgotten Families: The Move to Provide Paid Time-Off for Adoptive Parents
-Employer’s Guide to Adoption Benefits
-Employers Offering Adoption Benefits
Thank you for your time. If I can provide any additional information, or if you have specific questions, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
Mary Jean Ohns
Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist
The Internal Revenue Code Section 137 currently allows The ABC Hospital to establish an Adoption Reimbursement Program under its existing Cafeteria Plan. With this program in place, the hospital can reimburse an employee on a tax free basis up to $10,000 per adopted child in qualifying adoption expenses. This reimbursement account is funded solely by the employee, in a similar fashion as a flexible spending account for qualified medical or child care costs. Therefore, the incremental cost to the employer to offer this additional benefit to its employees is relatively small.
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