The recent Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade has left our nation stunned. Last year, we watched a microcosm of this upheaval play out when Texas banned procedures for women past their sixth week of pregnancy. Many Texas employers offered assistance to workers seeking abortions, and others publicly condemned the legislation arguing that it would send top talent to other states.
Now that abortion rights are overturned on the federal level, companies across the nation are feeling the same pressure to retain employees. According to the Guttmacher Institute, approximately 26 states are “certain or likely” to ban abortions. In fact, measures are already underway to ban the procedure in 13 states. As more and more states enact restrictions, women will need to travel lengthy distances for treatment. Companies are already preparing to support employees as post-Roe v. Wade fallout reaches the workplace.
How corporate America is responding to the fall of Roe v. Wade
Some of the nation’s biggest corporations are already stepping forward to show support for their workers in need of reproductive care services. For example, The New York-based bank, Citigroup, pledges to cover travel costs, airfare, and lodging for employees seeking abortions. Match, the Dallas-based parent company of dating apps including Tinder and OkCupid, set up a fund to support staff after Texas’s abortion ban came into effect in late 2021. The fund covers the costs for employees and dependents who need to seek care outside of Texas. Their rival dating app, Bumble, has established a similar fund.
For its 4,000 workers scattered across the country, Yelp is rolling out a new travel benefit through its insurance provider. The fund seeks to provide equitable access to reproductive care regardless of where employees live.
Lyft and Uber are also already working to support women in Texas and Oklahoma, where abortion is already restricted. Lyft Inc. is working with health providers to cover the cost of rides for women seeking out-of-state care, while both Lyft and Uber have pledged to pay legal fees for any drivers sued for helping women obtain the procedure under anti-abortion laws.
Salesforce announced last year that it will assist any employees living in Texas to relocate if they wish to move to another state. Responses such as these demonstrate whether or not strict abortion laws will affect the spread of top talent across the US.
Levi’s employees who opt into company-sponsored healthcare plans are eligible to have their travel expenses for abortions reimbursed. This policy goes so far as to include the company’s part-time workers.
Two other industry giants were quick to respond. Apple says it will cover the cost of both abortions and travel for all of its retail workers, and Amazon informed US employees that it plans to cover up to $4,000 in travel costs and medical procedures — including abortion services. Amazon’s retroactive policy extends back to the first of the year and covers employees and dependents under two company health plans.
Most of the actions taken by the companies listed above stem from legislative changes in Texas. However, we can expect these practices to quickly expand to other US businesses.
How company leadership can offer financial support post-Roe v. Wade
Whether companies are large or small, they need to investigate what they can provide employees in the way of covering reproductive services. Every business should examine employer-sponsored health insurance coverage to determine if it covers reproductive care, birth control, Plan B, and IUDs.
The most common and logistically-sustainable way of supporting employees is creating reimbursement benefits for reproductive care services not already covered by the company’s health insurance plans. Most companies offering this benefit today are reimbursing eligible employees up to $10,000 for care and travel, with the average reimbursement being about $4,000. Businesses will want to consult with legal counsel and ensure compliance, especially if they operate and employ staff across multiple states.
Employers are showing support in many creative ways
Small businesses may be grappling with how to show support amidst increasing inflation and a looming recession. Though these companies may not be able to offer the benefits that large corporations can, they are finding creative ways to reassure and retain employees.
As the saying goes, “Time is money.” In lieu of paying for abortion services, employers are demonstrating support by offering paid time off for employees who need reproductive care. Some businesses are providing time off for local, state, and federal elections and encouraging employees to exercise their right to vote or volunteer as election workers. In addition, some employers are choosing to give paid or unpaid time off to employees who attend marches, protests, and demonstrations in support of reproductive rights.
Many employers are making free counseling and educational services available to their employees. Believe it or not, giving employees a chance to express concerns and listening to their needs is often the support they need most.
Employers across the country are showing support by publicly advocating for their employees. They are taking a stand for women’s rights by voicing concerns to state and local government officials. Many are signing the “Don’t Ban Equality” statement in recognition of the harm that results from restrictions on reproductive health care.
While smaller businesses often cannot fund medical and travel expenses, some still want to contribute monetarily. These companies are partnering with organizations dedicated to supporting women’s reproductive rights and offering to match employee donations dollar for dollar.
Above all, it is more critical than ever that companies ensure their hiring decisions and other employment practices are not influenced by an employee’s personal beliefs. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act clearly states that pressuring an employee to have or not have an abortion is unlawful. Despite the political climate, companies must ensure their employees know they can contemplate abortion without fear of repercussions.
Top talent wants access to reproductive health care.
Business leaders across the country are responding to the supreme court’s decision by taking a stand against policies that go against their company values and gender equity efforts. Now is the time for business leaders to demonstrate support.
Lauren Winans, CEO and Principal HR Consultant — Next Level Benefits