Is Egg-Freezing The Most Controversial Work Perk Yet?

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.

Egg-freezing offers a greater deal of flexibility to female staff members who want to have a family but who do not want to sacrifice their career. Subsequently, this benefit offers them the option of buying time before making a life-changing decision. It also saves them thousands of pounds.

Employee Benefits editor, Debbie Lovewell-Tuck, comments on the option of egg-freezing: “Benefits such as egg freezing enable an employer to position itself as a supportive, family-friendly employer, recognising the priorities that employees may have outside of work. Supporting employees on their journey to parenthood, whatever stage they may be at, can go a long way to bolstering employee loyalty, lowering stress and creating a positive organisational reputation among both existing and prospective employees.”



Money Saving

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

So, egg-freezing as a benefit is a good thing, right? Despite its positives, there is a great deal of scepticism towards the companies offering this benefit with many questioning why. Some have argued that it is a way of companies of squeezing out the best years of a woman’s career before letting them go off and start a family.


One of the biggest criticisms of egg-freezing as a work perk is that it is overly assumptive that the procedure will work. Egg-freezing is an invasive and painful procedure with varying success rates. Although there are a growing number of cases of ageing mothers, with celebrities becoming mothers after the age of 45, this is still a lottery rather than a guarantee. In fact, birth rates for women over 43 using their own eggs were less than 5% for women over 43, compared to 32% for patients under 35.


With that in mind, it could be viewed that companies offering this “perk” are actually trying to encourage women to work for more years rather than supporting them in the growth of their family.
Dr César Díaz-García is an award-winning fertility specialist and Medical Director of IVI London, a leading fertility clinic. He says: “We must remember, though, that while there have been huge advances in IVF over the years, it isn’t a guarantee. And so, while egg freezing gives women the possibility to choose when to start a family, not every woman who freezes her eggs will be able to have a baby. It is really important companies that promote egg freezing as a workplace benefit make this clear”.



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?

There is also a level of uncertainty as to what happens should the employee want to leave the company and what that subsequently will mean for their treatment. Once the contract is signed, employees could feel beholden to the company in a way that they would not normally be.


Employee Benefits editor Debbie Lovewell-Tuck says: “Employers that include egg freezing in their employee benefits package will need to consider what will happen should an employee leave the organisation. Who will cover the ongoing cost of storage, for example? Likewise, employees will need to consider if they have the means to take over such costs if necessary before going ahead with the procedure.”


There are also fears that a female employee with eggs in the bank will find it harder to leave a company, as she would then need to cover the cost of storage and IVF herself. Thawing eggs and transferring them to the womb costs an additional £2,500 on average.