How your business can help pay to start a family

Some companies provide coverage for things like egg freezing, in vitro fertilization, and shipping breast milk for traveling employees. Not only are these benefits a good way for employers to attract talent in a tight job market, but they also help companies retain existing workers.

“They find it difficult to sell to employees who have so many alternatives today, so they want to make an offer that goes beyond money. It creates bond, loyalty, connection and culture,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.

Searches on ZipRecruiter for family building benefits have been steadily increasing since 2015, Pollak said. “These are clearly benefits that some employees care deeply about.”

More comprehensive support for family building

In 2021, 66% of large employers covered some level of fertility treatment, up from 61% in 2020, according to Tracy Watts, senior partner, national head of U.S. health policy at Mercer.

Employers are also more inclusive in their bids to include LGBTQ and single workers, according to Watts. Currently, nearly a third of large employers offer inclusive family-building support, Watts said.

Fertility benefits provider Carrot Fertility has seen an increase in the number of companies offering its services to their employees over the past two years, according to human resources director Leslie Neitzel.

Total The lifetime financial benefits that employers offer workers vary, but typically range between $10,000 and $30,000, according to Carrot, and coverage amounts tend to increase with employer size, with some larger companies offering up to $30,000. ‘at $80,000.

General Motors has introduced a benefit that reimburses the cost of fertility treatments, surrogacy and adoption, up to a lifetime maximum of $40,000. And Cisco is offering full-time employees in the United States and Canada up to a lifetime maximum reimbursement of $50,000 for family planning expenses such as IVF and the harvesting, freezing, or storage of eggs, sperm and embryos. And $20,000 for surrogacy or adoption support.

“Employees no longer come to a potential employer and say, ‘Tell me about medical, dental, and vision care.’ in the job market,” Neitzel said.

Paid leave and flexible working hours

Establishing a routine with a new family member can take time, and for many new parents, having the ability to easily get back to work is helpful.

The United States does not have a paid leave mandate for new parents. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may provide unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks, but it does not cover all workers. Some states, including New York, California, and Washington, also offer paid family leave, and many companies have their own policies.

A Mercer survey shows that 70% of large employers currently offer paid parental leave or plan to do so in 2023, and 53% offer or plan to offer paid adoption leave.

New parents at Dropbox, for example, get 24 weeks of paid vacation. When they return to work, they also get a “transition week” when they are only supposed to work about 60% of their regular time, but still receive their full pay.

“After taking the 24 weeks, there’s something really important about getting back to the work week in a way that’s not so shocking,” said Melanie Collins, director of human resources at Dropbox. “Returning to work is a big transition.”

It's not the year for women and parents: child care provisions have been removed from the Inflation Reduction Act.  It is not the first time.

Offering work hours outside of the traditional 9 to 5 hours can also help parents balance work and personal life.

In 2020, Dropbox announced that it would be “virtual first”, meaning the majority of workers would be permanently remote.

“We have non-linear workdays,” Collins said. While there are designated core collaboration hours of four hours depending on time zones, employees have flexibility with their working hours, which can mean picking up the kids in the afternoon and finishing work. later.

“It allows harmony to exist between your work and your life and gives employees more agency over how they spend their time,” Collins said.

Help with childcare

Reliable child care is an essential part of being a successful working parent. But for many families, it’s hard to find and very expensive.

One of the ways employers can help is by offering on-site childcare or a subsidy to help cover costs. Mercer’s survey also found that about one in 10 large employers currently offer or plan to offer on-site child care by 2023.

Software company SAS has provided subsidized on-site childcare at its headquarters for more than 30 years. For parents who use child care elsewhere, the company also reimburses full-time employees up to $525 per month, per child, or 50% of monthly tuition, whichever is less.

“It has always been part of our culture to integrate families and work,” said Jenn Mann, director of human resources at SAS. “How on earth can employees focus on their jobs and be creative and innovative if they have these real life stressors?…if you can get rid of these stressors and distractions, not only does it help the employee work, there is an emotional connection.”

Compassionate leave

The road to parenthood doesn’t always go as planned, and some companies have enhanced their paid leave coverage to include miscarriages and failed surrogacy, adoption or fertility treatments.

Boston-based law firm Mintz is offering employees up to 15 days of paid vacation after a miscarriage. Workers can also get up to five days in a 12-month period after a failed surrogacy, adoption or fertility treatment.

“The path to partnership in a law firm overlaps quite directly with the path to parenthood,” said Geri Haight, attorney. at Mintz and chair of the firm’s Women’s Initiative. “It’s truly an important recognition of the company to provide a benefit that reflects some of the challenges and struggles our employees go through walking both paths at once.”

Breast milk shipping

Traveling while breastfeeding or pumping can be a logistical nightmare. And as business travel continues to increase, more and more companies are offering assistance to make the process easier.

“Companies are exploring the benefits they need to bring to the office space as employees get back on the road,” said Kate Torgersen, founder and CEO of Milk Stork, a breastmilk transportation company.

Torgersen said demand for shipping breast milk among employers and parents plummeted almost immediately at the start of the pandemic. She added that in the past year, many Fortune 500 companies have reached out to breast milk shipping and other services.

“There are a lot of companies that offer this advantage because they have people who need to be down the road…they recognize that offering family-building benefits is the way to attract and retain top talent in a highly competitive market,” said Torgersen.

Having supportive workplace policies, equipment, and space for employees who need to pump at work can also make the transition to work easier.

“Having a hospital-grade breast pump available to you at work is amazing, it’s one less thing to lug around,” Torgersen said.

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