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Human resources and gay marriage

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- Same sex marriage in Minnesota likely means plenty of professionals in Minnesota could get busier -- wedding planners, florists -- even human resources professionals.

After the wedding bells, companies across the state will need to adjust their benefits to cover legally married same sex couples.

The Mayo Clinic has provided benefits to same sex couples since 2000, but along with other businesses in Minnesota, officials are already preparing to adapt to new laws.

"Health insurance, being part of the pension that an employee -- being the first beneficiary as a default," listed Dr. Sharonne Hayes, the Mayo Clinic Director of Diversity.

Those are all things that Minnesota businesses will likely have to adjust in coming months to cover newly married same-sex couples.

Human resources professionals say it's still too early to tell what the financial impact on employers will be, but many are already preparing.

"We'll be assessing how we would make any changes and how that would affect our enterprise," Dr. Hayes said.

At the Mayo Clinic they've already seen what kind of an effect expanded benefits can have on a company's workforce, and Dr. Hayes says other companies may be able to learn from what they've done.

"The implications make for a much more included sense by the employees," Dr. Hayes said. "So if anything I think it may increase morale and the value of their employees. Perhaps their loyalty."

Officials at Olmsted Medical Center agree. The company has provided same-sex health benefits to employees for the past year and released a statement Monday that reads in part:

"We consider any additional financial impact OMC experiences due to this decision a valuable investment in employee satisfaction and, in turn, the personal patient care our employees provide."

Dr. Hayes went on to say that while Mayo Clinic is proud of being forward thinking when it comes to providing benefits to same sex couples, companies that have not already provided benefits for same sex couples may have an easier time making the change.

That's because Mayo Clinic will have to fit new guidelines with the policies they came up with years ago.

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