Amazon To Reimburse Employee Travel Expenses For Abortions

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Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), the second-largest private employer in the United States, announced on Monday that it will reimburse up to $4,000 in yearly travel fees for non-life-threatening medical treatments such as abortions.

After Citigroup Inc (C.N), Yelp Inc (YELP.N), and others, the online retailer has decided to respond to Republican-backed state legislation restricting abortion access by assisting staff in circumventing them. It demonstrates how, despite regulatory changes affecting employees’ health, businesses are eager to maintain and attract people in places that are still critical to their operations.

The United States Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of June in a case that provides the court’s conservative majority the opportunity to curtail abortion rights or possibly reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized the practice worldwide. Should the Roe decision be overturned, around two dozen states, including Oklahoma and Alabama, have legislation in place that would restrict abortion access.

According to Amazon’s letter, the new benefit applies if an operation is not accessible within 100 miles (161 kilometers) of an employee’s home and virtual care is not possible. It is available to all Premera or Aetna health plan members in the United States, whether they work in a corporate office or a warehouse.

The payments announced by Amazon on Monday are not limited to abortion. They also give non-life threatening treatments including cardiology, cellular gene therapies, and substance addiction problem services. Amazon, on the other hand, provides up to $10,000 in yearly travel reimbursements for life-threatening emergencies.

The announcement came on the same day that Amazon ceased granting paid time off to COVID-19 patients in the United States, instead allowing them to take five days of unpaid leave. Employees at an Amazon warehouse in New York will have their ballots counted on Monday to determine if the business will unionize. The Amazon Labor Union, an organization of present and former Amazon employees, has advocated for higher wages and job security.

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