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Amazon joins corporate giants to reimburse employees for abortion travel expenses

Amazon joins corporate giants to reimburse employees for abortion travel expenses
Corporate giant also eliminates paid sick leave for Covid-19

Amazon has joined several other large corporations that will reimburse US employees’ travel costs for non-threatening medical treatments, including abortion care, following a wave of state-level legislation to restrict access or criminalise abortion across the US.

The nation’s second-largest employer and biggest online retailer will cover up to $4,000 for healthcare travel if treatments are not available within a 100-mile range of the employee’s home, according to the company’s announcement, first reported by Reuters.

Amazon joins companies like Apple, Citigroup and Yelp in providing for travel expenses for abortion care, as Republican state legislators file a wave of anti-abortion legislation and begin dramatically reducing access ahead of the US Supreme Court’s ruling in a case that could upend decades of precedent protecting abortion rights.

“In response to changes in reproductive health-care laws in certain states in the US, beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources,” according to a message from Citigroup to its investors following a Texas law banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt also has signed a bill into law blocking abortion at six weeks. He also has signed a bill making abortion care a felony, punishable up to 10 years in prison.

Several other state officials have also moved to criminalise or effectively ban abortion in their states, and at least 26 states are likely to ban the procedure entirely if the Supreme Court overturns precedent from from the 1973 ruling in Roe v Wade that establishes constitutional protections for abortion care.

Amazon also announced that it is cutting employee’s paid medical leave for Covid-19 and replacing paid sick days for five days of excused unpaid leave, CNBC reported.

The corporate giant – where alleged failures to protect employees from Covid-19 sparked widespread worker backlash and a union campaign – had initially offered up to two weeks of paid sick leave for employees quarantining because of Covid-19. That leave was reduced to one week, or up to 40 hours, at the beginning of the year.

Amazon also will scale back notifications of confirmed infections in the workplace and end vaccination incentives, CNBC reported.

“The sustained easing of the pandemic, ongoing availability of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, and updated guidance from public health authorities, all signal we can continue to safely adjust to our pre-COVID policies,” according to the notice reviewed by the network.

Covid-19 infections are rising in most of the US, with roughly 55,000 new daily cases in a seven-day average.

News of the company’s latest medical policies comes as results from a closely watched union election at a second Staten Island warehouse were revealed on 2 May, with the union campaign losing by a vote of 618 to 380 in a facility with roughly 1,600 workers.

The outcome of that election follows a surprising victory from the upstart Amazon Labor Union at the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island and international momentum towards unionising other facilities.