Effective Jan. 1, 2018, for most union groups and all non-represented employees, domestic partners and their children will not be eligible for King County benefits, except for state-registered domestic partners. King County will continue to offer employee benefits to non-state-registered domestic partners and their children for the remainder of 2017.
Why is King County making this change? King County previously extended employee benefits to the domestic partners of employees to correct an inequity in benefits provided to same-sex couples. This policy was enacted at a time when same-sex marriage was prohibited in Washington. However, a Supreme Court ruling granted same-sex couples the right to legally marry in all U.S. states in June 2015. Married same-sex couples are now eligible for the same benefits and tax advantages as other married couples.
King County and its labor unions determined that offering benefits only to state-registered domestic partners would create consistency with state law and help mitigate the effects of rising health care costs.
How do I register my domestic partnership? State-registered domestic partnerships are offered only when at least one of the partners is age 62 or older. Go to the Washington Secretary of State website for more information or to declare a state-registered domestic partnership.
Options and impact for 2018
Those whose King County benefits are ending Dec. 31, 2017, will have the opportunity to pay to continue health coverage through COBRA for up to 18 months.
Your 2018 color level will be based solely on your participation in this year’s program.
Affected employee groups
This applies to all employees except those in the following union groups (as of Sept. 18, 2017):
- King County Police Officers Guild (KCPOG)—King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO)
- Puget Sound Police Managers Association (PSPMA)—Captains & Lieutenants(KCSO)
- Technical Employees Association (TEA)—Transit Division
For more information view the FAQ: Domestic Partner 2018 Changes, COBRA, Washington Secretary of State Domestic Partnership Declaration, Washington Secretary of State FAQ or contact King County Benefits, Payroll and Retirement Operations at 206-684-1556 or KC.Benefits@kingcounty.gov.