In a message seen by Reuters, Amazon told its employees on Monday that it will pay up to $4,000 in travel expenses each year for non-life-threatening medical treatments, such as abortions. The company is the second-largest private employer in the US.
The company’s decision makes it the last one after Citigroup Inc., Yelp Inc., and other companies that have responded to Republican-backed state laws that limit abortion access by giving employees ways to get around them. It shows how companies want to keep and hire people in places where their work is important, even though new laws have made it more difficult for people to get health care.
Ending June, the US Supreme Court will decide whether to roll back abortion rights or even overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortion legal in all 50 states. If the Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade decision, about two dozen states, including Oklahoma and Alabama, have laws in place to limit abortion access.
Employees who live more than 100 miles (161 km) away from an operation and can’t get care through virtual means will be able to get the new benefit retroactively, Amazon said in a message. Those who live in the United States and work for a company that has a health plan with Premera or Aetna can apply.
On Monday, Amazon said that it would pay back some of the money that people paid for abortions. It doesn’t have to be life-threatening to get other non-life-threatening treatments, like cardiology, cellular gene therapies, and substance abuse disorder services. Separately, Amazon gives up to $10,000 a year in travel reimbursements for people who have life-threatening illnesses.
The news came on the day Amazon stopped giving U.S. employees who have COVID-19 paid time off. Instead, they were given five days of unpaid leave. Amazon workers at a warehouse in New York are also having their votes counted on Monday, which will help decide if the warehouse joins a union. There is a group of people who have worked for Amazon called the Amazon Labor Union. They have been fighting for better pay and job security.