Almost a third of young workers aged 18 to 34 (31 per cent) believe fertility benefits, such as egg freezing or subsidised IVF, should be offered by employers.
According to research by Willis Towers Watson, almost half (47 per cent) of these millennials and post-millennials cited the high cost of private treatment as the biggest reason for this.
Forty-three per cent said they were concerned about restricted NHS treatment, 26 per cent believed it would offer improved career opportunities while 24 per cent said it would reduce time the pressures of having children too quickly.
“Increasing numbers of employers across the US are now supporting employees on their path to parenthood, as highlighted by the Willis Towers Watson Maternity, Family and Fertility Survey,” said Mike Blake, Willis Towers Watson’s wellbeing lead. “Their counterparts in the UK should consider the recruitment and retention benefits of following their lead.
“One in seven UK couples face difficulties trying to conceive1, yet restrictions in NHS funded treatments have been widely reported in recent years, with postcode variations in access to services. Furthermore, the cost of private fertility treatments can be a significant financial burden, and in some cases, may even prove prohibitive.”
Perhaps unsurprising the research, conducted among 2,000 workers, found that the number of workers calling for fertility treatments to be offered by employers was highest among younger employees. The figures fell to 20 per cent for all UK workers and dropped to just six per cent among workers aged over 55.
“While companies may appear forward-thinking and supportive by offering fertility treatments, employers should tread carefully to avoid a backlash,” added Blake.
“The introduction of egg-freezing as a benefit, for example – notably among the tech giants of Silicon Valley – has sparked controversy in some quarters and can risk raising suspicions around employer motivations.”
Indeed, almost one in four UK workers said that if their employer were to offer egg freezing as a benefit, they would view this as a selfish attempt to retain talent for longer.
“Family-friendly employers looking to introduce fertility benefits to support workers, and to relieve their financial burden, should be aware that although health insurance policies will ordinarily cover underlying medical conditions related to infertility, they will not typically cover fertility treatments, such as IVF.
“Alternative options include provisions via self-funded schemes, such as healthcare trusts. Specialist benefits consultants can advise on the solutions that are available, along with appropriate, sustainable, benefit limits.”