The job landscape has changed drastically over the last couple of decades with people seeking increasingly more from their employers. As such, a competitive job offer is more than just a salary. In the last couple of years especially, certain work perks such as health insurance, support for mental health and hybrid working have become standard for many companies in an effort to attract and retain talent. However, one work perk is causing more of a stir than others: egg-freezing for female staff.
Egg-freezing and other fertility treatments as an employee benefit is nothing new, with many organisations, such as Facebook and Apple, having offered these since as far back as 2014. However, the UK has been a bit slower on the uptake. Now, a growing number of UK businesses including NatWest, Freshfields and Centrica, are offering compensation for fertility treatments and egg-freezing to their female staff. BlackRock offers female employees in the UK an egg freezing package of up to £15,000 and law firm Cooley offers fertility treatment coverage of up to £45,000.
The other huge benefit of companies offering egg-freezing is the vast amount of money it can save female employees who choose to go down this route.
Natalie Sutherland, Fertility Officer and Partner at Burgess Mee Family Law says: “Fertility benefits offered by employers, including egg freezing and IVF, are on the rise as more and more employers are understanding the benefits to supporting employees in their family building plans, both in terms of employee wellbeing satisfaction and retention and attraction of staff. Fertility treatment is notoriously expensive and having an employer offer these types of benefits will go a long way to assisting access to assisted reproductive choices that might not otherwise be available on the NHS.”
No Guarantee That It Will Work
Manipulation of Female Staff
While some view the option to freeze your eggs as empowering for women, others suggest it may be a form of manipulation. There is the suggestion that if the company is paying for your egg-freezing or IVF, there is no reason to start thinking about a family anytime soon as there is less pressure – however, this could be seen as a way of companies “buying off” their staff so that they are not distracted by thoughts of raising a family and could be seen as a way of manipulating staff to be more productive.
Not only that, some experts suggest that egg-freezing as a corporate benefit could distract from a lack of other, potentially more beneficial benefits such as flexible working, childcare or more competitive parental leave. Worryingly, it could suggest that the women who choose to have children younger and not freeze their eggs are less serious about their career progression. All of this can work to create a toxic work culture.
Ambiguity: What Happens Next?