Yelp to Pay Out-of-State Travel Costs for Employees Who Need an Abortion

The company joins Citigroup, Apple and Levi Strauss & Co. in offering to cover travel costs after Texas passed a highly restrictive law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy

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Yelp. Photo: HAYOUNG JEON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Yelp is joining three other major companies in offering to pay the travel costs for employees and their partners who need an abortion, in light of Texas' highly restrictive law that bans abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy.

The company, which is based in San Francisco, has around 4,000 U.S. employees and just over 200 in Texas that could be affected by the abortion ban. Yelp said that the travel coverage will also extend to employees and their partners in other states that could be "impacted by current or future action that restricts access to covered reproductive healthcare," Yelp said in a statement shared with PEOPLE.

"As a remote-first company with a distributed workforce, this new benefit allows our U.S. employees and their dependents to have equitable access to reproductive care, regardless of where they live," Miriam Warren, the company's chief diversity officer, said in a statement shared with PEOPLE.

Yelp joined three other U.S. companies in offering this benefit, which they said will go into effect this month through insurance providers. Apple was the first to do so in September, followed by Levi Strauss & Co.

Last month, Citigroup bank announced that they would do the same for any workers in Texas, where they have more than 8,000 employees. A Texas legislator then warned the bank that he would create a law that would stop them from underwriting municipal bonds in the state, however he has yet to do so.

Warren told The New York Times that Yelp is not concerned about any backlash from Texas, and expects that this benefit will help them retain and recruit employees.

"The ability to control your reproductive health, and whether or when you want to extend your family, is absolutely fundamental to being able to be successful in the workplace," she said.

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Employees who use the benefit will submit receipts from their travel costs straight to their health insurance provider, shielding them from having to notify anyone at the company.

Yelp had donated money last fall to fight Texas' abortion bill along with similar legislation in other states. And in 2018, they initiated a system for users searching on Yelp that separates abortion clinics from "crisis pregnancy centers," which try to stop people from having abortions.

"Our User Operations team manually reviewed more than 2,000 businesses and clinics to ensure accurate categorization," Yelp said.

Since Texas enacted their ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, around 1,400 people a month are traveling out of the state to obtain an abortion, according to a March study from the University of Texas at Austin. Nearly half of residents — about 45% — have been traveling to nearby Oklahoma, but that will likely come to an end now that the state has enacted a total ban on abortions as of Tuesday, which will go into effect in August.

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