Facebook and Apple had earlier this month announced a policy that offers to pay a sum of $20,000 to women employees who wish to opt for egg freezing. Apprehensions were quick to arrive and criticisms abound as to how this might actually further the long existing bias against women, who have to either juggle between or choose either the professional or the domestic realm. However, there are negatives and advantages of the same, but when seen in totality with other employee-friendly policies of Facebook and Apple, this new development is more likely to produce a positive effect rather than a disparaging one.
Egg freezing is said to provide an opportunity to those women who suffer from some kind of complication in their fertility cycles and have little reproduction options. Consequently, for those women who have been facing problems conceiving a child due to various medical or health problems, or due to natural slow down in the number of eggs released as a result of aging, egg freezing gives another opportunity of having a child. According to a 2011 report by the journal Nature, the total number of babies born through egg freezing are 2000.
However, not everything about the process is sanguine. Seema Mohapatra, a healthcare law and bioethics expert at the Barry University School of Law, in an interview, said, “Doctors must ensure that women who choose to freeze eggs do not have unrealistic expectations about the process or the results.” She explains further that frozen eggs are no guarantee for healthy biological children.
Nevertheless keeping with the reputation of both the companies, Facebook in particular whose employee-friendly policies like subsidised day care, paid maternity and paternity leave along with the newly announced parent cash benefit of $4000 that was simultaneously declared with egg freezing policy are more beneficial than harmful for the employees.
Therefore, if companies indeed do emulate Facebook and Apples’ policies, it can’t be a single or incomplete import of a few work policies like the egg freezing policy. But it needs to be substantiated with and supported by a stream of employee-friendly policies that like the two stalwarts echo the philosophy of understanding and support of its workers. This change in commitment and philosophy of the companies towards more “humanised” work spaces is the only way to ensure that policies such as egg freezing, that have the potential to be twisted and turned against women, are not misused against employees to compromise their reproductive choices for career growth.
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