Fertility benefits have become a way for companies to recruit and retain talent, especially female and LGBTQ employees. A recent BBC story talks about the San Francisco “internet of things” firm Samsara and their decision to offer such benefits, including help with paying for surrogacy. The idea was suggested by a group of female employees and the company was quick to see the advantages, following the leads of tech giants Google and Apple who assist their employees with things like egg-freezing.
Samsara’s benefits are available to all staff regardless of length of service, and there’s no requirement to stay with the company for a minimum length of time. Employee William Preston told the BBC that he and his husband, who have been together since they were teenagers, began to think seriously about starting a family, but were shocked when they found out the costs of surrogacy. So Preston was thrilled when his company started offering up to US $15,000 per-employee-per-year to help cover it. He signed up immediately. If they’d been sitting on the fence before then, he says the new policy “pushed us over the fence.”
After a lengthy process of choosing an egg donor and picking the clinic, the couple expect to receive their eggs later this month. They are shooting for a successful pregnancy by the end of 2019. An old friend of theirs has already offered to carry the baby, and they are in the process of finalizing the arrangements, including compensation. Of course, they will still have to pay substantial amounts of their own money — the cost of commercial surrogacy (which is banned in many countries such as Canada, the UK, and Germany) can easily reach six figures in the US. Nevertheless, the company benefits help defray the cost.
The Samsara policy is administered externally by the fertility benefits management company Carrot, who say they “take the fear out of fertility for your employees, replacing it with a compassionate, data-driven experience that optimizes for the healthiest outcome.” Their customized plans are recognized for their inclusivity and price transparency, and coverage is extended to all employees regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
Fertility benefits have been described as the latest salvo in a “benefit arms race.”According to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), 31% of US employers with at least 500 employees offered fertility benefits in 2018, compared to 24% in 2016. In the US, coverage amounts vary: Software firm Salesforce’s surrogacy benefit is capped at $10,000; Facebook reputedly offers $20,000; and Snap, best known for its social network Snapchat, is reported to provide up to $80,000.
Observers believe the trend toward offering fertility benefits started with law and consulting firms, because professionals in these fields often spend the bulk of their childbearing years in graduate and legal programs, prepping for a demanding career. By the time they are ready to focus on family, their fertility has declined, requiring assisted reproductive services. Companies who provide help in this regard are more likely to recruit and retain them.
For advice on family law issues and fertility law issues, contact Shirley Levitan.