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Facebook, Apple offer to cover costs of freezing eggs for female staff

Apple and Facebook have updated their company benefits policies to include fertility treatments in a bid to retain female staff.

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Human embryo image public domain

From January 2015, Apple will cover up to $20,000 for freezing eggs for both full- and part-time staff in the US, including the extraction procedure and storage costs, while Facebook has been offering the benefit up to the same amount from January this year.

"We continue to expand our benefits for women, with a new extended maternity leave policy, along with cryopreservation and egg storage as part of our extensive support for infertility treatments," Apple said in a statement. "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."

The company also introduced extended parental leave, while Facebook offers four months of parental leave for both mothers and fathers, as well as adoption and surrogacy assistance, and other fertility services for male and female staff. Apple offers assistance for adoption, too.

Freezing eggs can be costly, coming in at around $10,000 for the initial procedure, then costing around $500 per month for storage, Reuters reports.

Both companies have been praised for these benefits, which are part of a growing Silicon Valley trend to offer attractive working conditions in order to lure the best talent.

"Egg freezing gives women more control," said Jennifer Tye, marketing lead for fertility app Glow. "When I turned 30, I had this notion that my biological clock was ticking, but I didn't know what my options were. These employers should be commended."

Warwick Business School professor of human resource management James Hayton, who researchers how companies attract and retain talent, noted that the policies, though bold, are likely to benefit those companies who are brave enough to offer them.

"Egg freezing is one in a long line of innovative HR practices intended to be attractive to educated people with many employment options, seeking a focus on flexibility in the difficult balance between work and life," he said.

"The costs appear to be moderate, although not trivial, at about 20 percent of average annual salary at these firms. The benefits, in terms of attracting and retaining employees, can be expected to significantly outweigh the costs. The positive PR will pay for itself by signalling these employers' values, with respect to women's control over this important life choice, to prospective female employees."