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Working mothers frozen out by Apple and Facebook family planning policy

BY Lorna Gemmell
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

It has been reported in the media that Apple and Facebook are set to offer female employees based in the US a controversial new “perk” – financial help to freeze their eggs!

In the words of Apple “We want to empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families”. A useful benefit for women grappling with demands of career and biological clock or a suspect message to female employees about attitudes to pregnancy and working mothers?  

Despite Apple’s positive spin, the news is likely to cause a sharp intake of breath amongst female readers. Many employees already announce their pregnancy news to their employer with some trepidation. There is a considerable fear that policies of this nature would only have the effect of causing female employees to question whether their life choices will be accepted by their employer and put them under more pressure to delay having a family. 

Quite aside from the moral questions this policy raises, the companies also run the risk of future litigation if an employee takes up this option and is later unable to conceive using the frozen eggs. Given the litigious culture in the US, if an employee were to find herself in that unfortunate position she may well seek to take legal action against her employer for arguably encouraging her to go down this route.  

Interesting food for thought although we think a similar policy in the UK is some way down the line.

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