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Largest US employer Walmart to offer benefits to same-sex partners

Largest US employer Walmart to offer benefits to same-sex partners

Behemoth retail chain Walmart has surprised many – including its employees – by announcing this week that they will begin offering benefits to same-sex partners.

The retailer, which has 10,900 stores in 27 countries, informed its employees of the change in a low-key way. They received a postcard pointing out several changes to their benefits plan including the addition of domestic partners including those of the same sex.

Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove tells USA Today that the recent US Supreme Court decision striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act had a role in the company’s move.

To be eligible for any of the company’s benefits, employees must be with Walmart for at least one year and work an average of 30 hours a week.

Hargrove says ‘no proof is required today to enroll a spouse.’ The only requirement is that they have been living together ‘in an ongoing exclusive’ relationship for at least 12 months.

Known as Walmart in the US, the company operates stores around the world stores under 69 different banners. It employs 2.2 million people around the world – 1.3 million in the U.S. alone.