Yelp will pay employees to travel to access abortion

Yelp announced Tuesday that it will cover the expenses of its employees and spouses who must travel out of state for abortion care, becoming the latest company to respond to a Texas law banning the procedure after about six weeks of pregnancy.

The online research and review platform, which is based in San Francisco and has more than 4,000 workers, employs just over 200 in Texas, but the benefit extends to employees in other states who may be affected by “current or future action that restricts access to covered health care.” reproductive health,” a company representative said.

Last month, Citigroup became the first major bank to disclose that it will pay travel costs for employees affected by the law in Texas, where it employs more than 8,000 workers. Other companies that have announced policies aimed at mitigating the impact of the law include Uber and Lyft, which have offered to pay a legal fee to Texas drivers who can be sued for taking someone to an abortion clinic.

A Texas Citigroup lawmaker has warned that he will introduce a bill to prevent the bank from underwriting municipal bonds in the state unless it reverses its spending policy. Miriam Warren, the company’s chief diversity officer, said while the “backlash is getting more attention,” Yelp isn’t concerned with how its show, which begins next month, will be received. She and other executives said she and other CEOs have received many personal notes thanking Yelp for taking a stand on abortion.

Ms Warren said the move, taken as companies compete for talent in a narrow working group, will help Yelp maintain a more diverse and inclusive workforce. “We want to be able to hire and retain employees wherever they live,” she said.

“Being able to take control of your reproductive health, and whether or when you want to expand your family, is absolutely fundamental to being able to succeed in the workplace,” she added.

Questions about obtaining abortion or vaccine mandates would once have been considered outside the purview of the corporate leadership. But executives are increasingly finding that they have to take a stand on such contentious issues because they are often of great importance to their workers and clients.

“I think the question for these companies would really be: Where do you want to set?” said Caitlin Myers, an economist at Middlebury College in Vermont, who has been tracking the economic impacts of reproductive health policies. “Are you in a place where women have very limited reproductive rights? Will you be able to recruit women to come there?”

Yelp’s travel benefit is part of its long-term effort to access abortion services. In 2018, the company said it would do more to make sure Yelp users clearly understand the difference between abortion clinics and “pregnancy crisis centers,” which are meant to keep people away from pregnancy termination.

“Our user operations team has manually reviewed more than 2,000 companies and clinics to ensure accurate classification,” Yelp said in a statement. Last year, when Texas passed the abortion law, the company also pledged to double employee donations to organizations that have been fighting the legalization.

Under the new policy, Yelp employees will be able to submit travel expense receipts directly to their health insurance company, Ms. Warren said. “So no one else at Yelp will ever know who is accessing this, or how and when, and it will be compensation coming directly through the insurance provider,” she said.

Yelp’s median income was $92,000 in 2020, according to regulatory filings, and companies where employees earn the highest wages are often the most explicitly in conflict with legal restrictions on abortion. However, these restrictions disproportionately affect low-income women who cannot afford the extra travel or days off from work to make the trip, Professor Myers said.

“Women who are well off and women with a college education are not the ones who can’t travel,” she said. “These women will find a way to get to a place where it is still legal.”

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