Yelp will pay employees for travel for abortion access

Yelp is expected to announce on Tuesday that it will cover costs for its employees and their spouses who have to travel outside the state for abortion care, becoming the latest company to respond to a Texas law that bans the procedure after nearly six weeks of pregnancy.

The online search and review platform, which is San Francisco-based and has more than 4,000 employees, employs just over 200 people in Texas, but the facility extends to employees in other states who may be affected by “current or future measures that limit access.” Health care, ”said a company representative.

Last month, Citigroup became the first major bank to announce that it would pay travel expenses for workers affected by Texas law, which has 8,000 employees. Other agencies that have announced policies to mitigate the effects of the law include Uber and Lift, which have offered legal fees for drivers in Texas who may be sued for taking someone to an abortion clinic.

A Texas legislator has warned Citigroup that it will bring a bill to stop banks from underwriting municipal bonds in the state unless it withdraws its spending policy. Although “feedback gets a lot of attention,” Yelp is not worried about how its program, which will begin next month, will be received, said Miriam Warren, the company’s chief diversification officer. She and other executives have received many personal notes thanking Yelp for taking a stand on abortion, he said.

Although the number of employees who may be eligible for coverage is small, Yelp took this step, in part, to attract talent in a difficult labor market. “We want to be able to recruit staff and retain them wherever they are,” said Mrs. Warren.

“The ability to control your reproductive health, and whether you want to raise your family, is absolutely fundamental to being able to succeed at work,” he adds.

Questions about abortion access or vaccine mandates were once considered outside the state of corporate leaders. But executives increasingly see that they have to take a stand on such divisive issues because they are often so important to their employees and customers.

“I think the question for these companies really is: where do you want to be?” Caitlin Myers, an economist at Middlebury College in Vermont, is tracking the economic implications of reproductive health policy. “Are you in a place where women have extraordinarily limited reproductive rights? Will you be able to recruit women to come there? “

Yelp’s travel facility is part of a long-term effort to access abortion. In 2018, the company said it would do more to ensure that Yelp users clearly understood the difference between abortion clinics and “crisis pregnancy centers”, with the goal of keeping people away from abortion.

“Our user operations team has manually reviewed more than 2,000 businesses and clinics to ensure proper classification,” Yelp said in a statement. Last year, when Texas passed its abortion law, the company promised to double employee grants with law enforcement agencies.

Under the new policy, Yelp employees will be able to submit receipts for travel expenses directly to their health insurance company, Ms Warren said. “So no one else on Yelp will ever know who is accessing it, or how or when, and it will be a reward that comes directly through the insurer,” he said.

According to regulatory filings, Yelp had an average income of $ 92,000 in 2020, and companies with higher wages are often the most opposed to legal abortion restrictions. Yet these restrictions disproportionately affect low-income women who cannot afford extra travel or work holidays for travel, Professor Myers said.

“Well-to-do women and college-going women who can’t travel,” she said. “These women will find a way to get to a place where it’s still legal.”

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