With perks like arcades, ball pits, laundry services, round-the-clock meals, and pretty much anything else it takes to coddle energetic young employees not quite ready to assume full adulthood, Silicon Valley firms are legendary for offering workers anything it takes to keep them at their desks instead of tending to an outside life. The latest entry in the “They get what?” panoply of benefits for high-tech workers is egg freezing, currently at Apple and Facebook and, presumably, to be adopted by more companies if it proves popular. While it’s being touted as a generous perk worth around $20,000, there’s no shortage of fierce criticism that it’s simply a manipulative way to extract longer, more focused efforts from younger employees the companies don’t want to see distracted by families and greater work-life balance. (It’s worth noting that, in some cases, the offer is extended to spouses of employees, so it’s not just the female workers who are affected by the new benefit).
While the debate about whether such a program assists or coerces delayed family planning is new enough that it should provide plenty of back and forth for quite some time, a much more established consideration for women of childbearing age is how a pregnancy would affect their jobs. Despite some longstanding laws designed to protect pregnant workers’ livelihoods, there is often a good deal of confusion for both them and their employers regarding rights and obligations.