July 16, 2023 -At least seven large international companies are offering “fertility benefits” to their employees in the Netherlands. That means they reimburse egg freezing, the purchase of donor sperm, extra rounds of IVF, or the costs of surrogacy and adoption, Nieuwsuur reports after surveying the companies.
The companies involved are McKinsey, Hubspot, LinkedIn, Uber, Salesforce, SurveyMonkey, and Google. Fertility treatments in the fringe benefits are a relatively common practice in the United States, but it is new to the Netherlands, according to the program. Here, couples experiencing infertility get many of the treatment costs reimbursed through the basic health insurance package. But the freezing of eggs, extra IVF attempts, and the costs of donor sperm are still for their own account.
“I understand it within the American context,” Mara Yerkes, a professor of social policy at Utrecht University who studies work and family, told Nieuwsuur. “There you see that the government offers little when it comes to work and family and that employees often have health insurance through the company where they work. For the Dutch context, this is really a new phenomenon.”
Critics of employment conditions related to fertility are mainly worried about reimbursing the freezing of eggs. That could foster a corporate culture in which women feel pressured to postpone motherhood. American research showed that especially companies where employees experience pressure to work very hard and not take time off for their families offer this type of employment conditions, Lucy van de Wiel, a university lecturer at King’s College London and the author of the book Freezing Fertility, told the program.
Yerkes and Van de Wiel both stressed the importance of guarding against possible adverse consequences of this type of employment condition. “We have actually seen for years that the boundary between work and private life is fading. This stretches it enormously. It seems so non-binding, but there is always a relationship of dependency between employee and employer. This phenomenon reinforces that,” Yerkes said.
The only company willing to comment on their employment conditions to Nieuwsuur was IT company Salesforce. Nikki Brouwer, the HR manager for the Benelux, said the company offers fertility benefits because it cares about its employees’ well-being.
Brouwer stressed that the workers don’t have to do anything in return for the benefits. “We do not ask employees to work at Salesforce for at least another 24 months to be able or allowed to do this. There are no conditions in return.” She added that there’s no pressure on workers to postpone parenthood. “We also offer benefits that support parents in having children, such as six months of parental leave for both father and mother.