How Employers Can Support Employees with Reproductive Care Services

June 28, 2022
5 min read

The Supreme Court decision overturning the half-century-old Roe v. Wade has stunned the nation. This shocking ruling has taken away the constitutional right to an abortion, allowing individual states to create their own abortion restrictions.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, which researches sexual and reproductive health rights globally, approximately 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. This is expected to force many women to travel lengthy distances to secure legal reproductive treatments.

This ruling puts further pressure on companies to find alternative ways for their employees to receive reproductive care services. It may also intensify the battle to recruit top talent.

Last year, Texas banned abortion procedures after the six-week mark. Some companies in the state publicly condemned this move arguing that this would prevent prospective employees from joining their organizations. Some of those companies went as far as offering assistance to their workers seeking safe and legal abortions.  

Now that workers in many states will be directly affected by the Supreme Court decision, the most common and sustainable way for employers to support their employees is to create a reimbursement benefit for any reproductive care service not currently covered by health insurance coverage. Most companies offering this benefit today are reimbursing up to $10,000 for care and travel with the average reimbursement being about $4,000.

Some of the nation’s largest corporations are currently helping workers in several ways.

Citigroup

The New-York-based bank has pledged to cover travel costs for employees seeking abortions, including airfare and lodging.

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 costs for employees and dependents who need to seek care outside of Texas. Rival dating app Bumble has set up a similar fund.

Yelp

For its more than 4,000 U.S. workers, Yelp will roll out a new travel benefit through its insurance provider in the coming months which “allows our U.S. employees and their dependents to have equitable access to reproductive care, regardless of where they live.”

Lyft and Uber

Lyft Inc. is working with health providers to cover the cost of rides for women in Texas and Oklahoma—which outlawed abortion last month—who seek out of state care. Both Lyft and Uber have also pledged to pay legal fees for any of their drivers sued under anti-abortion laws for helping women seek out the procedure.

Salesforce

The company announced last year that it will help any employees living in Texas to relocate out of the state if they wished to move in response to strict abortion laws.

Levi’s

Levi’s employees who opt into their company-sponsored health-care plans will be eligible for reimbursement of travel costs for abortions, including part-time workers.

Apple

The company has said it will cover the cost of abortions and travel for treatment for its retail workers.

Amazon

Amazon recently told employees in the U.S. that it would cover up to $4,000 in travel expenses related to medical procedures including abortion services. The policy is retroactive to Jan. 1 for employees and their dependents covered by two company-offered health plans, Reuters reported, and covers services rendered if care is not possible to be offered virtually or available within 100 miles of an employee’s home.

While most of these actions stemmed from the legislative changes in Texas, it’s very likely that these same practices will expand, both within these organizations and to other U.S. companies in the coming weeks and months.

The team at Next Level Benefits thought of some other ways employers can help employees during this unprecedented time.

  • Reassure employees that the company understands the gravity of this decision and that they are supported by the company’s leadership. Give staff members opportunity to express their concerns and listen for ways to support them.
  • Further examine employer-sponsored health insurance coverage to ensure it covers reproductive care, birth control, Plan B, and IUDs. Cover abortion where legally permitted and consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance in all states where the company operates and employs staff.
  • Provide paid time off for employees to access reproductive care.
  • Provide free counseling and educational support services.
  • Partner with and help to fund the efforts of organizations dedicated to supporting women’s reproductive rights. Provide a company match for employee donations to these same organizations.
  • Provide time off (paid or unpaid) to employees to attend marches, protests, demonstrations, and similar events in support of reproductive rights.
  • Publicly voice concerns to state and local government officials to enact change.
  • Provide paid time off for all elections to encourage employees to exercise their right to vote as well as volunteer to serve as election workers.
  • Sign the Don’t Ban Equality statement that prioritizes equality in the workplace and recognizes the harm caused by restrictions on reproductive health care, including abortion.
  • Ensure hiring and other employment practices are not affected. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) makes clear that it is unlawful for an employer to pressure an employee to have or not have an abortion and to use an employee’s decision to have, not have, or contemplate having an abortion as a reason for an adverse employment decision.
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