23 October, 2014

Apple stirs debate with frozen-egg staff perk

English: Apple's headquarters at Infinite Loop...
English: Apple's headquarters at Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
SAN FRANCISCO


Apple is following Facebook by offering company insurance coverage to women who wish to freeze their eggs.

Facebook started providing the benefit, which applies to employees and their spouses or domestic partners, in January. The Menlo Park, California-based social network firm offers full coverage, or as much as US$20,000 (S$26,000) for expenses related to the procedure, which could include surrogacy or court fees.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, said it will start offering similar coverage next year. In a statement, Apple spokesman Kristin Huguet said the iPhone maker wants to “empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families.”

The decisions come amid a debate about the best ways to recruit and retain women in the technology industry, where they are underrepresented as a percentage of the total workforce. Apple and Facebook are among the first companies to offer the option to freeze eggs.

The developments, which were reported earlier this week by NBC, sparked a debate on social media about whether the benefit would pressure women to undergo an invasive procedure to delay childbirth in favour of their careers.

“Is an employer paying to freeze a woman’s eggs empowering or suggesting motherhood and a career are incompatible?” songwriter Miranda Dawn, wrote on Twitter yesterday.

Gawker’s Valleywag blog jumped in with a post entitled Facebook And Apple Offer Egg-Freezing Perk So Women Never Stop Working.

In response to the debate, Facebook spokesman Genevieve Grdina said the company also offers other benefits to make the transition to parenthood easier whenever an employee is ready, such as nursing rooms on campus and subsidized day care. When a baby is born or adopted, a mother or father gets four months of paid parental leave and US$4,000 in “baby cash.”

BLOOMBERG

Taken from My Paper, Thursday, October 16, 2014