With the repeal of Roe v. Wade on the horizon, the biggest companies in America are offering travel reimbursement and other benefits to employees in states that restrict abortion access. This is our live tracker.
by Maggie McGrath and Jena McGregor
Corporate America would prefer to talk about just about anything other than abortion. Climate change? A no-brainer. Voting access? An American right. So-called “bathroom bills”? A threat to employee well-being and safety.
But thanks to a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wadethe landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion a guaranteed right in the US, the chief executives of America’s biggest companies are being asked to take a position on — and in a growing number of cases, offer new benefits or funds to address — what has long been the third rail of American politics.
“Like anything else social and political, there’s no middle ground anymore,” says Anthony Johndrow, who leads a reputation advisory firm that counsels businesses on engaging in such issues. “Companies have found that to their chagrin, and it would be tough to find an issue that’s more emotionally loaded than this.”
Public-opinion surveys show that workers would welcome their employers’ help. Americans favor legislation that would legalize abortion nationwide by a nearly 20-point margin; a recent Morning Consult poll found that by a two-to-one margin, employed adults would prefer to live in a state where abortion is legal; and according to data released last fall, some two-thirds of college-educated workers have said they would not move to a state with extreme abortion restrictions.
That’s why more companies, amid sweeping restrictions in states like Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi and ahead of the expected repeal of Roeare announcing they’ll help employees who need abortion services and reproductive healthcare no matter where they live. For shareholder activists like Shelley Alpern, who runs corporate engagement initiatives at Rhia Ventures, a nonprofit that invests in reproductive health companies, the corporations that have thus far stayed quiet will need to speak up. “I think they’re being advised by their PR firms to stay silent on this,” she says. The silence is “not only disgraceful, it’s just so tone deaf in the moment. These questions are not going to go away. Half of all the people who work in corporations are wondering right now what their benefits are. ”
In a fast-moving environment where lawmakers are already threatening to penalize companies that provide such benefits, some employers may be waiting for the Supreme Court’s actual decision on Roe. Others are reportedly considering special benefits. For now, here are the companies, updated as announcements are disclosed, that have said they’ll provide assistance to employees facing the barriers of restrictive laws:
Amazon has told its US employees, according to a message obtained by Reuters, that it will cover up to $ 4,000 of travel expenses for medical procedures, including abortion. The benefit is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022, and will kick in if a procedure (any medical procedure, not just abortion) is not available within 100 miles of an employee’s home and virtual care is not available. The company has not yet replied to a Forbes request for comment.
The union-owned bank said in a statement that it will cover travel expenses “for employees and their dependents who need to travel out of state to access reproductive health care.” The benefit includes airfare, gasoline costs, hotel fees and meal expenses, as well as up to five days of childcare expenses for an employee’s young children who might need to stay home during the trip. The bank also said it was launching a grassroots fundraising drive for organizations responding to the access issue called the Critical Reproductive Access Fund (CRAF).
The company has said that its health plan covers abortion care and travel costs if necessary, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Forbes has reached out to the company for comment.
Following the September enactment of SB 8 in Texas – the bill banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, a point at which many women do not even know they’re pregnant – Bumble announced a relief fund for women and people across the gender spectrum affected by the legislation. “Bumble is women-founded and women-led, and from day one we’ve stood up for the most vulnerable. We’ll keep fighting against regressive laws like # SB8”The company said at the time.
In its 2022 proxy statement, the Wall Street bank said that “in response to changes in reproductive healthcare laws in certain states,” it would begin providing travel benefits this year “to facilitate access to adequate resources.” In response, one Texas legislator warned he would introduce a bill to keep the bank from underwriting municipal loans in the state unless Citigroup changed the policy. The company said any US employee enrolled in its health plan would be eligible and the benefit is managed through its health plan.
The food delivery platform said it would begin covering certain travel-related expenses for employees and their dependents who are enrolled in its health plan and have to travel out of state for abortion-related care and live in states where there are barriers to access.
Levi Strauss & Co.
The denim maker said in a May 4 statement that its current benefits plan makes employees “eligible for reimbursement for healthcare-related travel expenses for services not available in their home state, including those related to reproductive health care and abortion.” It also said employees not on its benefits plan — including hourly workers who are part-time— “can seek reimbursement for travel costs incurred under the same circumstances.” Coverage and travel reimbursement for all forms of medical care not available in an employee’s home state was already part of its benefits package, the company said.
“Business leaders are responsible for protecting the health and well-being of our employees, and that includes protecting reproductive rights and abortion access,” the company said in its statement. “Access to reproductive health care, including abortion, has been a critical factor to the workplace gains and contributions women have made over the past 50 years. “Further restricting or criminalizing access will jeopardize that progress and disproportionately affect women of color, putting their well-being at risk and impeding diverse hiring pipelines.”
In September, the ride-sharing service vowed to protect its Texas-based drivers against the “bounty” portion of SB 8, and in April, following a copycat law in Oklahoma, Lyft CEO Logan Green announced, via Twitteran expansion of benefits, including covering travel costs for US employees enrolled in the company health plan who need to travel more than 100 miles to access abortion services.
In an internal memo released in fall 2021, now-outgoing CEO Shar Dubey told employees that she had set up a fund for workers affected by SB 8.
The software giant told employees in September, according to a Slack message obtained by CNBC, that the company would assist employees with relocating after Texas passed a restrictive abortion law. According to CNBC, the message said, “If you have concerns about access to reproductive healthcare in your state, Salesforce will help relocate you and members of your immediate family.” Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff also tweeted to his “ohana,” a Hawaiian concept referring to family, that if you want to move we’ll help you exit TX. Your choice. ” Salesforce did not immediately respond to messages from Forbes about the issue.
Buried within the electric carmaker’s new 2021 Impact Report—Which it released on Friday, May 6 — was a reference to an expanded “Safety Net” program and health insurance coverage that includes “travel and lodging support for those who may need to seek healthcare services in their home state.” Tesla investor relations has not yet responded to a Forbes request for clarification around whether this policy was created in response to state-by-state abortion restrictions.
United Talent Agency
In a memo to employees the Hollywood talent agency posted on its site May 4, CEO Jeremy Zimmer said it will reimburse travel expenses “related to receiving women’s reproductive health services that are not accessible in their state of residence.” In the memoZimmer said, “we’re doing this to support the right to choose that has been a bedrock of settled law for almost half a century.”
Though Yelp’s health insurance already included abortion care, it now also provides travel benefits for covered US employees and dependents who need to travel out of state for access, provided through the insurance provider. In an email to Forbes, the company said it not only covers employees currently impacted by restricted access to abortion, but those who may be in the future, too. On May 3, Yelp co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said the company would double-match employee donations to groups like Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood through the month of June.
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