Have you heard that Starbucks is now offering IVF as an employee perk? A few other companies have started offering an IVF benefit, but Starbucks is going further.
As the article, “How Starbucks covers pricey in vitro fertilization for even its part-time employees” states, “Starbucks covers $20,000 for IVF and related medication for all eligible employees. That includes part-time baristas who make, on average, about $10,000 per year.” From how I read that Starbucks’ IVF perk gave barista Shannon Iagullis “not one baby, but two,” it seems the company offers this perk for each try at a child.
This employee perk got me thinking.
Should an Employee Perk be So Personal?
Companies have policies that give employees time off to handle personal matters, such as parental and other family type leave benefits. In the most equitable case scenario, companies offer personal time off (PTO) policies that can encompass a variety of things, not just family related matters.
The IVF perk goes beyond giving time; it is stepping into employees’ personal lives. It is providing a way to assist employees in creating a child, and manifesting how many children they want to have. Is this going too far?
Starbucks has likely run analyses regarding the offering of this benefit. The article indicates that the IVF perk makes for happier employees. And happy employees are more likely to stay in the job. Its analyses may very well project that it will foster employee retention, which could have a positive effect on employee turnover (particularly for baristas, which I bet is a segment of the employee population that has higher turnover than other positions). Starbucks may very well project the retention benefits will outweigh the costs for IVF and related medication.
So, if the answer to whether company benefits should get this personal is yes, it leads to another question:
Why Shouldn’t Another Reproductive Employee Perk be Offered?
If a company offers a benefit to help an employee get pregnant, why shouldn’t it also offer a perk for another reproductive choice, like procedures that will permanently prevent pregnancy?
I bet if a barista or any other employee wanted a tubal ligation, Essure, or a vasectomy, and his/her employer offered that reproductive perk, it would also make for happy employees who are more likely to stay.
How likely is this perk to be offered? Unlikely.
Why? Our pronatalist society continues to revere the creation and raising of children over the choice to pass on parenthood. And it remains commonly difficult for women to find a doctor willing to perform a sterilization procedure if she has not had any children. Society exalts having a child, and scorns the opposite reproductive choice.
Even if it would cost less than IVF (especially if paid for more than once), it’s also unlikely that employers would offer the sterilization perk to parents who don’t want more children. Like our pronatalist society as a whole, companies would not see these two reproductive choices as equally acceptable.
The IVF employee perk is yet another example of pronatalist policy, and a window into how pronatalism rewards reproduction, favors those who want and do have children, and does not extend the same reverence to those who do not.