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How Employers Can Support Employees Following the Overturn of Roe v Wade

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

We find ourselves at a challenging time in history in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling in the Dobbs v Jackson case and the subsequent overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Employers across the country are left with many questions about how to handle such an important topic within their organization.

In an effort to provide guidance and support, we've generated some answers to many of the questions employers around the country are asking:

Should My Company Make a Formal Position Statement regarding the Decision? Depending on your organizational values, you may wish to issue a formal statement or email to your stakeholders. In fact, some employees and/or customers may expect that you do this.

Should you decide to do so, take care and consideration, and perhaps seek legal counsel, to support your efforts in this regard.

What Employee Policy Considerations Do I Need to be Aware of?

It is recommended that you conduct a thorough review of your policies/handbooks surrounding employee conduct both on and off the clock to ensure that you can be proactive around any potentially contentious issues that arise and take a stance on how your company would like to show up based on your values.

Below is a list of policies and other considerations you and your company may want to review, discuss, add, or enhance:

  • Accommodation issues and employer liability associated with employees seeking a leave of absence

  • Discrimination and harassment considerations pertaining to laws like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Policies regarding on and off-duty conduct

  • Policies regarding employee communication with clients, customers, and third parties

  • Dress code policies

  • Time off policies for medical or health issues

  • Company branding requirements as it pertains to the personalization of employee email signatures

  • Social media policies

  • Supervisory training to support issues that may surface in the workplace regarding this ruling

Can My Group Health Plan Benefits Help?

There are several considerations you will want to take with regard to your group health plan and other company benefits as it relates to your employee population.

  • Understand State Law Bans: While self-insured employers may have more leeway to provide abortion assistance in states with restrictive laws, fully or partially insured health plans would be subject to any state law that bans coverage of abortion, therefore it is important to be aware of the laws in states that impact your employees.

  • Review Your Provider Network Access: If a group health plan has a limited provider network, consider expanding in-network coverage or adding out-of-network benefits which will give employees access to services in states where abortion services remain available.

  • Check Your Plan’s Travel-Related Expense Benefits: Evaluate your plan's medical-related travel and expense benefits in detail to determine what is covered. Be aware that generally, travel reimbursement will be taxable compensation to employees “except to the extent the reimbursements qualify as medical expenses”.

What Else Can I Do to Provide Additional Support to My Employees? There is always more that employers can do to support their employees. As you enter into discussions about offering additional benefits to employees in a post-Roe v Wade society, be mindful that some state laws restricting abortion include provisions prohibiting a person from “aiding and abetting” an abortion, which may be interpreted to apply to employers that elect to provide additional travel or leave benefits for employees seeking an abortion. It is always advised that you seek legal counsel prior to implementing policies that could fit into this category.

Benefits to consider adding or enhancing:

  • Specific paid time off to access reproductive care

  • Unpaid or paid time off to attend marches or demonstrations

  • Travel expense benefits (gas, airfare, hotels) outside of a health savings account (HSA) for employees to access abortion and reproductive services not accessible in their state

  • Company matches for donations employees make to organizations that support reproductive rights

  • If employees can use HSA funds for travel-related expenses to receive reproductive care in another state, consider an increase in employer contributions

  • Increase support within an employee assistance program (EAP), or if you do not have an EAP, consider adding one as a benefit

  • Provide resources or stipends for employees to get additional information, advice, counseling, and/or mental health support

  • If not available, consider establishing a travel and lodging benefit under the group medical plan

  • Consider establishing a benefit outside of a health plan by creating a relief fund to pay expenses for employees and dependents who need to travel to another state, or by offering a one-time bonus for travel and procedure costs in states permitting abortive care

Should you wish to learn more or take action on any of the items outlined in our guide, we invite you to reach out to us.


Roe v Wade Newsletter (2)
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