by Jeffrey Dustin
PALO ALTO, Calif. (Reuters) – Amazon.com told its US employees on Monday it would pay travel expenses of up to $4,000 annually for non-critical treatments, including abortions, according to a message seen by Reuters.
The decision makes the retailer the latest company after Citigroup, Yelp and others to respond to Republican-backed state laws that restrict access to abortions, allowing employees to stop them.
The US Supreme Court is due by the end of June to decide on a case that gives its conservative majority a chance to roll back abortion rights or even reverse the landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade in 1973, which legalized the process nationwide. About two dozen states, including Oklahoma and Alabama, have drafted bills to limit access to abortion if Roe’s decision is reversed.
Amazon’s new benefit, according to the company’s message, is retroactive from January 1, if operation is not available within a 161 km radius of the employee’s home and virtual service is not possible. The measure covers US employees or covered dependents enrolled in Premera or Aetna health plans, regardless of whether they work in an administrative office or warehouse.
The refunds that Amazon announced on Monday are not specific to abortions. They provide other non-critical treatments such as cardiology, cell gene therapy and substance use disorder treatment. Separately, Amazon offers up to $10,000 in annual travel refunds for life-threatening issues.
The news came on a day Amazon stopped offering paid time off to US employees diagnosed with COVID-19, allowing them to take five days of reasonable unpaid leave.
(by Jeffrey Dustin)