Companies Paying for Employee Egg Freezing: Nice Benefit, or Ominous Message?

by TTMK on October 15, 2014 · 18 comments

employee egg freezingIt’s often a dilemma that many working people face:  focus on working long hours to build your career, or dial it back and balance career and family.  This is an issue in particular for prospective mothers, who face the ticking biological clock in a way that males do not.  This brings us to this question for you:

What do you think about the idea that there are companies that pay for egg freezing for employees?

This issue got into the news with reports that several major tech companies have begun to cover the cost associated with freezing eggs, for female employees.  An interesting article in Time was one of a few I noticed on the topic.  It’s eye-opening, and really a sign of changing times when companies are offering such a benefit.

On the surface, it might seem like a good thing.  It’s always nice to see women’s issues taken seriously – actually, it’s nice to see issues specific to women and men taken seriously, but you get where I’m going with this.  An enlightened set of policies that meets the needs of today is often refreshing to read about.

I was talking to an acquaintance who expressed an view just like that.  As in, this is clearly a good thing all around, and a sign of caring about employees.  The more I thought about it soon after the conversation, the more I found myself unconvinced.

Here’s another question I have for you:

If you worked at a company with a stated benefit such as this, what message would you be receiving?

Would the message be: “We care about you!”

Or, would the message be: “We want to remove a major obstacle to your productivity”

You know, I could see it go either way.

For those who would truly like to focus on their career, or are worried about chances of becoming a parent later in life, having someone else pay for it can be a really nice thing.  It’s good to have options, and the fear of missing out on having a family – which I can totally understand might be extremely upsetting – can be calmed quite a bit.

On the other hand, is it sending an unintended message that it would be preferred if people focused on work and not family?  After all, companies can really invest a lot of time and resources on employees. and people are assets in that regard. If your asset becomes less productive, you might not want to invest more in it.

My own view is a hybrid of these.  I think it’s good to have options, and this type of benefit could really make a difference in the lives of some employees. That being said, if a culture is such that family needs to take a back seat in order to get ahead – even if it’s just a perception – it may not be for everyone.    After all, tradeoffs don’t always have to be absolute!

My Questions For You

As I asked above, what do you think about the notion that companies are paying for employee egg freezing?

Do you think it sends a positive message, or one that’s not so positive?

Do you think it’s still possible to truly have it all and balance everything?

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Kasia October 15, 2014 at 8:01 pm

I agree that it’s nice to have options but I wonder if this is going a little bit too far. Should you freeze your eggs if you’re fertile? I don’t know. It comes down to personal opinion. But what if you freeze those eggs for too long? According to a study conducted by the USC Fertility out of 150 women only 65% were able to have babies. What happens if you freeze your eggs and end up being in the 35% group?

Whether this is a positive or negative message depends where you’re standing. If you’re a woman who wants to concentrate on her career and postpone babies, then yes it’s probably positive because it’s giving you an option. I can’t help but think that the company who introduces this simply wants to increase productivity amongst their workers.

Can you have it all? Yes, you can. Just maybe not all at once. At the end of the day you have to figure out what matters to you most. Being a parent or a high flying career? I think you can be a parent and have a career but you also need a supportive partner, family and friends around you.

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TTMK October 17, 2014 at 5:30 pm

I think with that 65% figure, the level of concern probably varies and can be assessed on a case by case basis. By that, I mean some people might want to freeze their eggs simply because they haven’t met the right guy (or some other reason), as opposed to career-specific reasons. So maybe they wouldn’t be taking on such risk for the benefit of the company.

But I definitely see your point and agree that while it’s good to have options, one might justifiably ask if this is going too far.

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Jean @ NearlyRetired October 15, 2014 at 10:45 pm

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this one. I like offering working women choices, but like you I worry about that adding to unspoken pressure. Would I want the benefit available? Yes. I’d also want HR policies that ensure my choices are still that: my own.

But as a nearly retired older gal, I’m fortunate to not have to worry about it personally. 🙂

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TTMK October 17, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Good way to put it – choices are good, but unspoken pressure (or even just the perception of it) could be a real concern.

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Kevin @ Growing Family Benefits October 16, 2014 at 6:29 am

This seems more like a public relations ploy than a truly worthwhile employee benefit program. It certainly has generated plenty of press. A very small percentage of employees will take advantage, and it sends a dangerous message – if you use our money to freeze your eggs, you better not be taking a maternity leave anytime soon.

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TTMK October 17, 2014 at 5:26 pm

If that’s indeed the message, it is not necessarily the best press. It’s not like this is being universally lauded at this point, but rather it’s something that’s bringing about a lot of debate instead.

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Dee @ Color Me Frugal October 16, 2014 at 6:59 am

I have mixed feelings about this. I do think it’s a nice benefit for those who may need or want it, but I totally think that the companies that are doing it are doing so for their own selfish reasons, not for the employees benefit.

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TTMK October 17, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Maybe it’s a win-win? As long as there is no pressure to actually delay having a family – and even if that’s purely perception vs reality, it’s important to manage.

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Little House October 16, 2014 at 8:44 am

I actually don’t like this benefit at all. It’s sending the message – hold off on having a family while you work here. If they really cared about their employees, they’d offer flexible schedules, an on-site day care, etc. to accommodate families. Now, maybe they also offer these benefits and it’s just not stated here, then maybe I’d cut them some slack. But if this is all they’re offering in terms of “family” benefits, I think I’d run the other way! (P.S. and I don’t even have kids!)

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TTMK October 17, 2014 at 5:22 pm

How you perceive the message that is being sent is quite possibly how many are seeing it. It does give the impression, fair or not, that there is a business benefit to the employee delaying having a family.

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Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom October 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm

I’m ok with companies giving any benefits they want to their employees. I’m also for supporting women who choose to delay having children because they believe it is what is right for them.

I’m not ok with a company pressuring their female employees to delay having childen. So, in this case it would be depending on how the benefit gets implemented on a day to day basis.

The results of the study above where only 65% of women who froze their eggs were able to become pregnant is interesting.

I have a hard time believing that this benefit will be used by many women. Which is probably why it was offered: it’s not going to cost much anyway.

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TTMK October 17, 2014 at 5:20 pm

That’s a great point – if it’s not going to be used by too many people, it might not cost as much as one might initially think.

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maria@moneyprinciple October 17, 2014 at 3:37 pm

I this this is a very bad sign. As someone who had IVF to have my son I know how damaging, painful and hard to recover from the process is. And the outcome is far from certain (harvesting the eggs is really bad, btw). I believe, women should have children when they feel ready without having to delay this for career reasons.

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TTMK October 17, 2014 at 5:18 pm

I think that there is more to life than money, and family is an essential part of life that is really tough to compromise. When it comes to an all-or-nothing risk by delaying, that seems like it’s just that – risky. I should add that everyone as the right to make such choices as they please though.

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Zee @ Work To Not Work October 19, 2014 at 10:48 pm

That’s an interesting benefit to have but I’ve always had mixed feelings about benefits that only actually benefited one gender and not the other. There’s a whole other argument here about societal examples of men making more money than women, but I’d rather not get into that. I wonder if a company like that gave their employees to vote on if they want the benefit of egg freezing or if they would rather have an extra 2 weeks for paternity leave when a child is actually born what people would choose. For some reason I doubt that many would choose to freeze their eggs.

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TTMK October 20, 2014 at 10:30 am

That’s actually a really good point about benefits benefitting one gender and not another. As in, what will the perception be of the other half of the population that doesn’t get special benefits. Bias doesn’t play out well, even if in the short-term it appears to be unnoticed. What interesting, when you think about it, both the benefits you mention (egg freezing and paternity leave) can actually benefit the spouses too. I’m sure there would be plenty of wives that would love it if their husbands could disengage from work for 2 weeks and simply focus on helping with the challenges of bringing home a baby – including staying up late at night, etc.

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Jon @ Money Smart Guides October 20, 2014 at 7:46 am

After thinking about this, I’m not certain what message it is sending to employees. I can see it going either of the ways you thought of. But to me, getting pregnant isn’t the issue, the issue is taking time off of work to actually raise the family. By freezing eggs, nothing changes that. You still will have to take the time off of wok and interrupt your career, whether now or later. Because of that, I don’t see an issue. Now if the company said that they would pay for someone else to carry/raise your child so you could keep working, that would be a different story.

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TTMK October 20, 2014 at 10:32 am

That’s an insightful observation. So perhaps once the furor over this subsides, people might see it as truly just another option and not a subtle message to focus on career over family? You may be on to something. I suppose we’ll have to see how this plays out in the long run.

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