Walmart expands abortion coverage for workers

Employees and family members insured through employer will have coverage in select instances

Walmart expands abortion coverage for workers

Months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, America’s largest private employer told its workers that it will expand abortion and related travel coverage.

Effective immediately, Walmart’s health-care plans will cover abortion “when there is a health risk to the mother, rape or incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or lack of fetal viability,” reported CNBC, citing a memo to employees.

Also, employees and their family members who are insured through Walmart will have travel costs covered if they cannot access a legal abortion within 100 miles of their location, according to the memo.

Read more: ‘People shouldn’t have to look to their employers to receive basic human rights’

The company is also launching a center for fertility services and increasing financial support for adoptions from $5,000 to $20,000, according to the memo.

“We strive to provide quality, competitive and accessible health coverage that supports you and your families,” Donna Morris, chief people officer at Walmart, said in the memo.

Previously, charges for “procedures, services, drugs and supplies related to abortions or termination of pregnancy are not covered, except when the health of the mother would be in danger if the fetus were carried to term, the fetus could not survive the birthing process, or death would be imminent after birth,” according to the report citing the company’s handbook.

Walmart has about 1.6 million employees and is headquartered in Arkansas.

Many high-profile brands, including California-based employers like The Walt Disney Company, Meta, Netflix and more, have pledged to cover the travel expenses of employees who need to go out of state for abortions. Some, like Patagonia and Live Nation, have even vowed to cover bail expenses if their employees are arrested for peacefully protesting.

“The fact that so many companies are taking a very public stand and saying that they will absolutely work to support the rights of all the people on their team is heartening,” Amy Spurling, founder and CEO of Boston-based HR tech firm Compt, told HRD. “Do I think it should be their responsibility? Absolutely not, because people shouldn't have to look to their employers to receive basic human rights. I applaud the companies that are standing up for what is right for their teams.”

Veris Insights, a Washington D.C.-based recruiting analytics firm, conducted a string of surveys leading up to the Supreme Court’s ruling. In a June survey of business professionals before Roe was repealed, a third reported that employer-provided benefits to support traveling for abortion were “very important” or “essential” for evaluating potential employers. Millennials in particular care greatly about these benefits, with 40% considering them “very important” or “essential,” beating every other demographic by 10 percentage points.

Meanwhile, more than 600 Google employees are demanding the tech giant expand its health benefits in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. A petition requests Google not only widen its reproductive health care travel assistance to include its non-full-time workforce, but also add additional sick days and increased reimbursement stipends for that travel. It also requests that the company expand its support to include transgender and non-binary workers who aren’t women but might need the same services.

In June, Google, which had already promised travel benefits when the draft decision leaked, issued a memo saying employees can apply for “relocation without justification.”

In January, Walmart decided to cut paid leave in half for employees who test positive for COVID-19 or have to quarantine after exposure to the virus, offering only one week through March 31, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, 95% of employees wish the largest employer in the country offered more mental health resources, according to a previous report. Also, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) previously filed a case against Walmart for alleged disability discrimination and retaliation.

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