An IVF company has become the first Australian business offering to subsidise freezing its employees’ eggs.
Virtus Health, an in-vitro fertilisation treatment company, is following Apple and Facebook by planning to subsidise egg-freezing for female staff so they can choose to delay having children.
Freezing a woman’s eggs can cost between $10,000 and $15,000 in Australia. Recently Apple announced it will begin paying for its employees to freeze their eggs as early as next year.
Facebook, meanwhile, already has a similar policy in place. It has been reported that the reason behind such a policy is so employees can delay motherhood until later in their careers.
Dr David Malloy, medical director of Queensland Fertility Company – a division of Virtus Health – told SmartCompany the company’s decision to subsidise the freezing of its employees’ eggs “simply made sense”.
“The story hit the wires that Apple and Facebook were going to do this and we have a history anyway of assisting our employees if they’re accessing reproductive medical technology,” he says.
“We hadn’t really formalised anything on egg freezing for them until now – we had for IVF – but we are Australia’s leading egg freezing company and leading suppliers in the world of this technology. It makes sense for us to be the first in Australia to do this.”
Dr Malloy says the policy will be available in a few weeks.
“You wouldn’t step in and do this without some preparation,” he says.
Dr Malloy says he predicted that “social egg freezing” would have a dramatic effect on the workplace for women in a journal article in 2005.
“It provides a level of reproductive insurance to provide them greater flexibility in their careers,” he says.
“Nine years later the technology has been validated by a couple of major companies. Exactly what we wrote about in 2005 has come into fruition.”
Dr Malloy says he can’t comment as of yet on the reaction staff have had to the policy, although he does suspect they won’t treat it as “big news”.
“They understand this technology well and could have accessed it possibly in the past,” he says. “This announcement by Facebook and Apple has given us the opportunity to formalise something.”
Margaret Harrison, director of Our HR Company, told SmartCompany she has definitely seen a trend where businesses are offering perks to their employees to win them over and boost morale.
While some of the more different and expensive policies are being implemented by larger players or companies in Silicon Valley, Harrison says she is seeing some small businesses offer perks such as a free, healthy lunch at work.
“It’s a good harmonising factor,” she says. “A lot of places that do that make people leave their desks to eat lunch – which is an even healthier way to go.”
Harrison said another popular perk involves a business paying for or subsidising some of their employees’ travel costs – especially if they work quite late or have very early starts.
“All those things add up to productivity and people do appreciate it.”
As for whether a business should offer to pay for things such as freezing an employee’s eggs, Harrison says it could come across as intrusive and needs to be about the woman’s voluntary choice.
“If it’s to keep them working there longer… I think that’s wrong,” she says.