Linklaters has become the first of the five “magic circle” law firms in the uK to include gender reassignment surgery as part of its private healthcare scheme for staff.
The London-based company said the move, which has now been fully introduced, has been made in support of people with gender dysphoria, a medical condition where a person experiences discomfort and distress from a mismatch between their biological sex assigned at birth and their gender identity.
The new benefit is provided by AXA PPP healthcare, which will pre-authorise the surgery in line with NHS protocols which requires the individual seeking treatment to be under the care of an NHS Gender Identity Clinic.
The clinic will provide “robust” mental health support from specialists in dealing with gender dysphoria including counselling and speech therapy, Linklaters said.
As part of its ongoing support, the firm launched a Transition at Work Toolkit in 2016 with guidance from external trans-inclusion specialists. The Toolkit provides practical guidance to support transgender staff during their preparation for, and following, their transition.
Last October, consultants Mercer announced that it now offers trans benefits for treatment of gender dysphoria, as part of its UK employee private medical scheme. Mercer’s benefit will include comprehensive cover for gender dysphoria including consultations, diagnosis, mental health and surgical treatment. Fellow consultancy firm Aon, meanwhile, also announced last year that it had expanded its UK employee private healthcare scheme to include cover for gender dysphoria. That scheme is administered by Bupa.
Patrick McCann, global head of learning and LGBT Committee representative at Linklaters, said: “This step reflects the firm’s commitment to be best in class for diversity and inclusion in the legal sector, supporting our people as their employer, whatever their journey may be. The new benefit highlights the value we place on creating an inclusive workplace where everyone feels comfortable and that they belong.”
Last year Linklaters was also one of 13 organisations to be named a launch partner for the newly-created Trans Ally Programme from LGBT campaign group Stonewall, which is aimed at fighting discrimination that trans and non-binary people face around the world.
***Health Insurance & Protection will be following the development of how the private healthcare and employee benefits sectors approach transgender and gender identity issues in the months ahead. Check out our most recent coverage of some of the issues raised here and here***