With Roe overturned, employers eye changes to abortion-access benefits

Dive Brief:

  • When it comes to supporting those affected by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Inc., No. 19-1392 (Supreme Court, June 24, 2022)), employers are split on what kinds of benefits to offer, if any, according to Society for Human Resources Management research shared with HR Dive the same day. SHRM surveyed 1,003 HR professionals from May 24 to June 7, following the leak of the draft decision in early May.
  • The top three reproductive care benefits employers currently offer are paid time off to access such care (32%), unpaid time off to attend protests (18%) and PTO to attend protests (15%), according to the research and SHRM’s own coverage. When asked what reproductive care benefits they might now offer in light of Dobbs, top responses included PTO for employees to access reproductive care (7%), relief funds for employees to access such care (7%) and travel expense benefits outside of a health savings account (6%).
  • More than one-third of employers (35%) said they would not be more likely to provide travel expense benefits outside of an HSA for employees to access abortions and reproductive services, even if such funding was tax-deductible. The vast majority (87%) of employers said they would not change their HSA contributions if they knew employees could use funds for abortion-related travel, while 10% said they would consider increasing contributions and 3% said they would consider decreasing contributions.

Dive Insight:

With politics increasingly becoming a workplace issue in workers’ minds, employers have had to navigate how and when to make statements and changes to benefits and workplace culture. 

In attempting to balance a variety of competing interests and opinions, employers can find themselves between a rock and a hard place. When Disney’s leadership held off on making a statement about Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill, for example, employees walked out; when it reversed course and declared its opposition to the bill, however, Gov. DeSantis moved to dissolve the company’s special tax district. 

Regarding abortion access support, employers’ caution may be due in part to the response Citigroup received when it quietly introduced a travel benefit for abortion in April. The action prompted Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to urge the body’s chief administrative officer to terminate its contracts with Citigroup, saying the company “explicitly staked out its position to advance the liberal agenda of abortion on demand.”

On the other hand, timing may have been a factor, given the decision’s status as a draft originally. While 97% of responding organizations did not issue a statement after the draft’s leak, according to SHRM’s survey, companies are emerging with statements and benefit decisions in the wake of the official decision Friday. 

Disney sent an internal memo to staffers saying it would pay for abortion travel, according to CNBC. Dick’s Sporting Goods’ President and CEO Lauren Hobart penned a LinkedIn message saying the company would provide up to $4,000 for travel-related expenses for workers who needed it. Communications company Twilio announced it would provide abortion travel coverage, “continue evolving” its benefits and issue a $100,000 donation to the Center for Reproductive Rights. Several other companies made their own statements and commitments on Friday.

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