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Thursday, September 14, 2023

The Issues with Employer-Funded Elective Egg Freezing


By Kathleen (Katie) Hammond

We’ve seen a rising development in recent times of firms protecting some, or all, of the price of elective (i.e., non-medical) egg freezing as an worker profit. For example, Meta, Google, Netflix, Uber, and Apple are among the many record of firms that supply some protection for elective egg freezing.

On this piece, I discover 4 considerations with employer-funded elective egg freezing. Whereas there are a lot of upsides, employers must be conscious of how funding egg freezing could impression office tradition. They need to watch out about how details about the process is disseminated, and so they must be cautious to not discriminate with regard to who can entry it. Moreover, employer-funded elective egg freezing isn’t a substitute for different institutional advantages that foster office equality and parenthood-work steadiness corresponding to paid parental go away, versatile work schedules, and funding for childcare.

Protection of elective egg freezing — a fertility preservation technique — by employers could be a profit for workers. Since fertility for individuals with ovaries, largely ladies, declines as eggs age, egg freezing permits individuals to freeze their eggs when they’re younger in order that they will use them at a later age to extend their probabilities of being pregnant. It’s marketed to ladies as a option to “have all of it,” providing them some management over when they are going to have youngsters and offering choices for many who wish to delay childbearing for numerous causes, corresponding to eager to deal with their profession or discover a accomplice.

Employer-funded egg freezing doubtlessly makes the know-how extra accessible to those that may not in any other case have the ability to afford it. It permits individuals who would in any other case search out the know-how however first have to avoid wasting the cash to pay for it the chance to freeze their eggs at a youthful age. Since it’s paid for by the employer (and never the particular person freezing their eggs) it additionally doubtlessly assuages considerations in regards to the fertility trade exploiting individuals into paying massive sums of cash.

Additionally it is unlikely that firms would supply this profit until it was useful to them. Amongst different attainable advantages for an employer, it could possibly enhance worker retention, encourage workers to work, quite than have youngsters throughout their best years, assist an organization keep away from the rapid prices of parental go away, enhance gender variety, and might profit an organization’s public picture.

There are, nonetheless, essential considerations arising from elective egg freezing. There are bodily dangers related to the stimulation and retrieval of eggs, and, additional, individuals who freeze their eggs should subsequently endure in vitro fertilization (IVF) to make use of them later, which can carry elevated dangers of medical problems in being pregnant if people are of superior maternal age. There are additionally no ensures that egg freezing will work and there may be inadequate knowledge to precisely estimate particular person success charges. Along with these basic considerations in regards to the course of, there are additionally considerations particularly associated to the know-how being funded by employers.

First, as famous above, employer-funded elective egg freezing could present choices for people who find themselves not able to have youngsters for a wide range of causes. Nevertheless, notably if different advantages that allow parenthood-work steadiness aren’t in place, it could create a story that parenthood and work early in a single’s profession are incompatible. This may create a stigma for workers who select to have youngsters earlier and create stress for workers to freeze their eggs to exhibit their dedication to their job. An worker who freezes their eggs may additionally really feel indebted to the corporate and/or as if they need to not get pregnant for a sure period of time afterwards.

Second, when an worker takes benefit of funded elective egg freezing however their employer doesn’t supply different advantages that allow parenthood-work steadiness, this merely postpones however doesn’t resolve the eventual challenges of balancing parenthood and work. Moreover, by providing funded elective egg freezing, an employer could really feel as if they’ve already put in place an answer to help with parenthood-work steadiness and equality within the office. As such, they could be de-incentivized from providing long-term options to those issues.

Lastly, there are a number of potential considerations related to how funded elective egg freezing could also be supplied by employers. Along with the priority outlined above, about emotions of indebtedness, an worker may very well grow to be indebted to an organization that funds egg freezing if an settlement stipulates that an worker has to reimburse their employer in the event that they go away too quickly after freezing their eggs. Furthermore, if info or counselling in regards to the course of is obtainable by an employer-sponsored supplier this might create a battle of curiosity. There could also be points with the kind of info that’s supplied to an worker, corresponding to egg freezing being described as “insurance coverage” with out extra info being supplied about success charges. Prices which can be related to egg freezing and utilizing one’s frozen eggs, corresponding to storage charges, insurance coverage, and IVF, might not be coated by an employer and an worker could also be unaware of the truth that these prices aren’t coated earlier than freezing their eggs. Lastly, employers could draw problematic delineations as regards to who can/can’t have protection. For example, it could solely be supplied to cisgender ladies, individuals who haven’t but frozen their eggs, individuals who haven’t already had youngsters, and many others.

There are numerous positives related to firms funding elective egg freezing — certainly one of them being that dialogue about funding this know-how hopefully is drawing consideration to gender inequality within the office and issues with worker work-life steadiness. Nevertheless, you will need to acknowledge the attainable unfavorable impacts of this know-how being funded by employers in order that they are often addressed. It’s essential to keep in mind that funding elective egg freezing isn’t a long-term answer to office inequality and work-life steadiness issues. Funding for this know-how must be supplied along side different initiatives directed in direction of these points.

Katie Hammond is an Assistant Professor on the Lincoln Alexander College of Regulation at Toronto Metropolitan College and a former visiting scholar of the Petrie-Flom Heart.

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