More and more employers in the US are adding fertility benefits to their rewards packages in an effort to attract and retain employees who are interested in starting families. The latest organization to do so is State Street, which has added fertility and more generous adoption assistance to its benefits package in a deliberate effort to be more inclusive of LGBT employees in particular, Amanda Eisenberg reports at Employee Benefit News:
The financial services firm consulted its employees in an effort to make a meaningful expansion to its benefits package, which now includes four weeks of fully paid leave for employees who are primary caregivers to a child born via surrogacy; $20,000 in reimbursement for fertility-related expenses beyond the firm’s medical plans, such as surrogacy; and $20,000 in reimbursement for adoption assistance (up from its previous reimbursement of $5,000). The company says the benefits can be used once per calendar year and employees are allowed up to $40,000 in lifetime financial support for these benefits combined.
State Street is by no means alone in embracing fertility benefits as a talent attractor: A Willis Towers Watson survey conducted in January found that 66 percent of US employers expect to offer these benefits by next year, compared to 55 percent in 2017. These programs are also becoming more inclusive of LGBT employees who are looking to start families: 65 percent of employers who offer fertility benefits currently provide coverage to same-sex couples, but 81 percent are expected to by 2019. Employers told Willis Towers Watson that their main motivations for providing fertility benefits were to support diversity and inclusion, to help attract and retain top talent, to be recognized as a “best place to work,” and to foster a more woman-friendly workplace.
The survey also found that 99 percent of employers planned to continue providing contraceptive coverage through their health plans, despite the Trump administration’s decision last October to roll back the provision in the Affordable Care Act that required employer-sponsored health insurance to cover birth control, allowing an organization to exclude coverage for contraception if it has a religious or moral objection.
Companies that already offer fertility benefits are also expanding the scope of the benefit, either by increasing the maximum lifetime value of the benefit or the number of cycles of in-vitro fertilization it covers, the Wall Street Journal‘s Vanessa Furhmans reports. Pinterest, for example, increased its IVF coverage from $5,000 to $20,000 last year, and expanded it again this year to cover up to four cycles in a lifetime, which could cost over $50,000. Companies are also expanding access to fertility treatment benefits, like Foursquare, which no longer requires employees to prove infertility in order to use it.
The growth of fertility benefits responds to research showing that they improve retention and employees’ perceptions of their organization. However, these programs have also sparked some concerns about ethics and privacy, if employers get too involved in their employees’ decisions to get pregnant, or know too much about them. Egg freezing, another increasingly popular fertility benefit for women who wish to have children later in life, has also raised questions about the risk that women will feel pressured into taking this option, even though it is a relatively new procedure with uneven success rates.