Following the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss Rowe v. Wade, 20 U.S. states have either already banned abortion or are likely to do so soon, the Washington Post reports.
For residents of that state seeking abortion, their options are limited. Traveling to another state for an abortion is legal, but the cost of doing so – which may include the cost of caring for a child or missing work – means that it is not possible for many pregnant people.
In response, some employers in that state are taking steps to cover costs. Companies such as Disney, Comcast, Nike, PayPal and Netflix have issued statements promising to cover staff travel costs for abortions in other states. Other companies like Salesforce and Google have said they will allow employees to move to other states if they choose.
The future of abortion regulations is so uncertain, are these corporations taking legal risks by formulating such a policy?
Experts in the Northeast say that despite the ever-changing legal field, companies are taking this step for a variety of reasons, ranging from economic, social, ethical.
Republican lawmakers have threatened to respond to corporations that have offered to pay employees for travel expenses for abortions. But can a company like Disney really be accused of aiding and abetting illegal activity in order to provide this benefit?
This is unlikely, says Wendy Permet, a law professor at Matthews Distinguished University and co-director of the Northeastern Center for Health Policy and Law. “It will only be possible if it is illegal to travel outside the state for an abortion,” she says.
Although we do not know what the future holds, Permit notes that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanagh wrote in his unanimous opinion that states cannot bar residents from traveling to another state, and Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the Department of Justice will protect the right to travel within the state. .
However, this situation may change. “For the moment, this is probably a safe move,” Parmet said, offering the facility to companies. “But in this legal landscape, nothing is certain.”
So why are companies taking risks?
Jamie Laz, an associate professor in the Management and Organizational Development Group at the D’Amour-McKim School of Business, says job market conditions are certainly a factor.
In the United States, “employees are now an almost scarce asset,” he said. Job opportunities are at an all-time high, according to the NPR report, and millions of workers have left their jobs in the last few years as part of the great resignation. In response, employers are trying to reverse the trend – after all, losing an employee and training a new one is more expensive than paying for travel expenses, Laz said.
Laz said it leaves companies with very few choices, but to provide benefits that will prevent employees from leaving. “It’s not that they don’t want to do it regardless,” he says. “There are some organizations out there that are doing this out of sincerity of heart, but it’s hard to separate it from the idea that retention is a big problem now and that power has shifted to employees in recent months.”
Interestingly, Ledge says employees don’t even need to use the facility to tempt them to stay in the company; It may be enough to know simply what the company thinks of them. At the start of the epidemic, he said, people were more likely to stay in companies that offered benefits such as paid COVID-19 vaccine leave, even if they didn’t use them.
“There is a lot of research that suggests that there are benefits to any employee who supports the employee [or their family] Increases retention capacity, increases productivity and much more, ”Laz said.
The rise of social media and online activism probably played a role in the choice to provide such benefits, Laz said. In recent years, employees and consumers have held companies accountable on social media and in the workplace, which has prompted companies to change. And when a company receives such attention, other large corporations may feel pressured to follow suit.
Laz believes that there is also a moral element to the decision. The corporate activism we’ve seen in recent years, for example, the involvement of diversified enterprises in the aftermath of George Floyd’s police-murder, could happen because companies are really concerned about their employees and the problems at hand, Laz said. Wider diversity at the top, more women and people of color holding executive positions can also be a factor.
Whatever the reason, this benefit can ease the burden on some women across the country who want an abortion in a state that considers it a crime. But it obviously doesn’t apply to everyone. Disney has several thousand employees, but their policy does not help women who work in small businesses that, Laz says, may not be able to afford. This creates inequality in access.
“If it’s not federally mandatory, there’s no leveling of the playground,” Laz said.
There may also be privacy issues with actually using the facility, although Ledge isn’t too concerned about this. Instead, he compares it to IVF or any other method where corporate policy protects employee privacy.
Even if employees need to disclose why they are leaving the state, Laz said having such a policy could indicate that managers will be sympathetic anyway. This is an ideal feature for any boss, he says.
“We spend most of our lives in our companies,” he says “We need to learn how to show empathy.”
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