There are few subjects more sensitive to employers nowadays than ‘gender dysphoria’– when individuals experience a difference between their biological sex and gender identity.
Just as politicians have experienced marked dives in popularity over their views, or even just lack of views, in this area, employers who fail to express sufficient respect and empathy could fast find themselves shedding staff, clients and profits, not to mention having to face the full force of the law.
No employee can be discriminated against because the gender they choose to identify with is different to the sex recorded on their birth certificate, and employers have a duty of care towards everyone they employ. This includes communicating in appropriate language and in a way that meets individual needs.
Most HR departments will already be well versed in how more general working practices need to be adjusted to suit gender dysphoric employees but, in our experience, they are less up to speed with such issues in the area of health-related employee benefits.
Private medical insurance
Private medical insurers have been proactive in adapting their policies to benefit this small but ever-growing section of the workforce.
Private medical insurance, which enables employees to bypass the NHS queue by paying for private treatment for short-term acute conditions, now commonly provides information about what gender transition means and can point people in the direction of valuable support resources like counselling and podcasts. Some insurers will even cover the costs of surgery for those who choose to go down that route to effect gender change.
But information sources and cover features can vary markedly from one PMI provider to another. So can the questions asked on the application forms. For example, one major insurer specifically asks for “sex at birth” whilst a couple of others ask for gender, not sex.
Chase de Vere is up to speed with the different covers and stances of all the players and can therefore give you any guidance you need.
We can also help in the area of group risk products like life cover, income protection, which pays a regular income if employees are unable to work due to long-term sickness or disability, and critical illness cover, which pays out a lump sum if they are diagnosed with one of a stated number of serious conditions.
We are finding that clients are increasingly asking us for guidance on what to put on data capture forms when seeking quotations because some employees are now recording themselves as ‘decline to self-identify’ or ‘non-binary’.
In most cases it is still necessary to say whether scheme members are male or female as most group risk insurers don’t offer an “other” box – although this should change in time when they update their systems.
If in doubt, it is probably best to put an employee’s sex at birth and then include a note in the comment section explaining that they have changed gender or are currently undergoing a change. But, once again, insurers’ attitudes differ, and we can provide any help needed.
If the odd employee refuses to disclose their gender it shouldn’t be a huge issue in pricing terms because group risk insurers are not allowed to rate individuals differently according to their gender. They can take aggregated gender information into account for pricing purposes, but it would require more than a small minority of scheme members not to disclose their gender to have an impact.
However, gender is a material fact in the application process and, if it is recorded incorrectly, it could in theory lead to a claim not being paid further down the line on grounds of non-disclosure.
Furthermore, if employees find that what they consider to be the wrong gender or sex has been recorded on their insurance certificate it could result in considerable upset and offence to the individuals concerned. So please don’t hesitate to seek our guidance.
If you would like to find out more about how Chase de Vere can help you deal with transgender issues in connection with your private medical insurance and group risk schemes then please don’t hesitate to contact us.
The contents of this article are for information purposes only and do not constitute individual advice.