Like most of the country, we’re still processing Friday’s Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization that ended the federal right to an abortion in the USA leaving it to each state to decide. We shared our immediate reaction on social and, of course, continue to think about all the ways this impacts our community—and what we, with our focus and expertise on work and cancer, can do to help make sense of it.
One immediate trend we’ve been following over the last few weeks, and even more so since Friday, is companies expanding or updating their benefits. These changes are being made to better account for family planning needs, reproductive healthcare access and differences in the law depending on where an employee lives. Considering these issues has become even more relevant as so many roles have gone remote, giving workers even more flexibility about where they live but also potentially impacting the care they can receive. One example of these updated benefits that we reviewed included everything from travel reimbursement (including for fertility preservation and abortion services) to guaranteed compassionate leave for miscarriage to paid time off (including hourly workers) for travel for medical care as well as expanded access to mental health services. Benefits are a key way to share a company’s values as well as to keep a company competitive for talent so we expect this to continue to evolve as more companies assess what to do.
We talk a lot about being savvy and evaluating whether an employer is a good fit when you are job searching. That can mean everything from what skills will you be able to use or develop to how large is the company and, given the size, what legal protections would you have access to as an employee. Benefits have always been part of the equation and now, for some, this assessment may also include companies who have pledged to support workers needing to travel to access the healthcare they want or need.
While, on the whole, these additional benefits and policies are good news, we always want to encourage thinking about privacy and disclosure when we’re bringing any health-related experience into the workplace. It is important to understand how your use of any of these benefits might impact your privacy. If you currently work for a company who has expanded these kinds of benefits, you may want to consider asking some questions now when it can easily be framed as a desire to understand how these new resources will work in practice. If you’re job seeking, it can be a little trickier but there are strategic ways to ask about benefits and get some insight, once you think you’re likely to be offered a role or you’re in the negotiation phase. At some point, sites like Glassdoor may also offer useful information on how these benefits work in practice and not just theory.
There is also a lot we don’t know about how states will write their laws and then how use of benefits like these might impact you or your company. At the moment, it is probably most fair to say that a majority of companies are still evaluating what they will do - and as time passes what they need to do is likely to also change.
For more on researching employers: https://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/looking-for-work/exploring-your-options/researching-employers
To read more about this kind of coverage: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/companies-announce-abortion-travel-benefits-following-dobbs-decision.aspx
For a list of some of the companies publicly sharing these new benefits: https://www.reuters.com/world/us/companies-offering-abortion-travel-benefits-us-workers-2022-06-24/