Why companies in Germany should offer fertility benefits

In this blog post we explain what fertility benefits are, and why German companies should offer these benefits to their employees
MiterabeiterInnen der Generation Z

What are fertility & family building benefits and who offers them?

Fertility benefits are employee benefits aimed at supporting employees on their individual path to parenthood. The benefits typically cover the costs of fertility treatments, as well as the provision of a counselling and support services in which fertility counsellors advise their employees on the choice of clinic and accompany them throughout the process.

Fertility & family building benefits are already widespread in the US and have become a standard employee benefit offered by many companies. It is not (anymore) only the tech giants Apple, Google and Facebook that offer these benefits. According to a study by Mercer, in 2021 a total of 47% of all US companies with more than 5,000 employees offered fertility benefits

Some companies also cover the costs of other services such as sperm donation, medication or adoption-related services. In 2021, 21% of large companies also covered or subsidised fertility preservation (so-called social freezing) for their female employees.

The spread of fertility benefits has once again increased significantly as a result of the tense situation on the labour market. “Employer fertility benefits are on the rise amid the Great Resignation” was the title of an article by MSNBC Online in June 2022. According to a recently published study by FertilityIQ, the number of large companies offering fertility benefits increased by another 8% in 2021 compared to the previous year.

But it’s not just in the US that the prevalence of fertility & family building benefits is on the rise; in Canada and the UK, more and more employers are also supporting their employees’ path to parenthood. Banks like NatWest, law firms like Clifford Chance and energy provider Centrica are just a few of the companies that have introduced fertility benefits in the UK in recent years. Meanwhile, 17% of British companies support their employees with fertility & family building benefits if they are struggling to conceive. In a survey published in March 2022 by the website employeebenefits.co.uk, 67% of UK employers surveyed said they either already offered fertility benefits or were considering to introduce them.

Are fertility benefits relevant in Germany?

Yes, definitely!

The health care system in Germany is different the one in the US. In Germany, health insurance companies cover 50% for some treatments for some fertility patients for a limited number of treatments. But: this only applies if you are young (woman under 40, man under 50), married and do not rely on donor sperm. Moreover, many medically useful treatments such as blastocyst culture or cryopreservation of embryos are not covered by health insurance as they are classified as “experimental”. Sperm donations, the precautionary freezing of eggs or the treatment of unmarried women or couples are also not included in the catalogue of benefits of the statutory health insurance funds. In addition, coverage is usually limited to 50% for a maximum of 3 attempts.

The consequence: many of those who are childless-not-by-choice have to bear a considerable share of the costs of infertility treatment, which can quickly run into the tens of thousands.

In addition to the financial challenges, there are emotional, physical and time burdens. By providing a counselling and care service as part of fertility benefits, companies can at least support their affected employees with the emotional and time challenges. Trained fertility counsellors are best placed to help with the search for information and to provide fertility patients with professional and emotional advice.

In summary, it can be said that although the initial situation for involuntarily childless people in Germany may be slightly different than in the USA or other countries, many of the fundamental challenges for those affected are the same. The great benefit of fertility benefits for your employees exists in Germany just as it does in other countries.

The first companies in Germany have also recognised the benefits of fertility and family building benefits. In June 2023, the management consultancy Kearney announced that it would support all employees with up to €40,000 towards the costs of fertility treatments or adoptions. In September 2023, the pharmaceutical company Merck was the first DAX-listed company to announce that it would also support its employees financially with fertility benefits. The media reaction to this was extremely positive, which has also played a key role in the concept becoming increasingly well known in Germany.

Why should companies offer fertility benefits?

Offering fertility benefits has three main advantages for companies, all of which are clearly in companies’ own interest.

1.  Companies pay a price for not offering support

It would be a mistake to think that “not supporting” employees in their unfulfilled desire to have children is free. An unfulfilled desire to have children has a strong impact on the motivation and productivity of employees. According to a BMFSFJ study, 63% of those affected blame stress at work for their involuntary childlessness and are less motivated. If involuntarily childless people do not receive sufficient support from their employer during fertility treatment, it is not uncommon for them to give up their job and career to focus on having children. According to a British study, 12% of women quit their job during fertility treatment due to a lack of compatibility, and a further 14% reduce their working hours. Fertility & family building benefits can cushion the negative effects somewhat and help your employees reach their goal more quickly, which is also in the employer’s interest.

2.  Improved employee retention and loyalty

If an employer supports its employees in difficult life situations, this has a positive effect on satisfaction, loyalty and employee retention. According to a FertilityIQ survey, employees who were supported by fertility benefits were more loyal and motivated (61%), more grateful (42%) and stayed longer with their employer (53%). In addition, 88% of women returned to their old employer after parental leave. At a time when companies are trying to improve employee retention, offering fertility benefits can make a crucial contribution, especially when it comes to not losing women in the “rush hour of life”.

3.  Better positioning in the competitive recruitment market

The demands on employers have changed – not only as a result of the pandemic, but certainly influenced by it. A recent study by Personio shows that employees place more emphasis on their employer being family-friendly, flexible and caring about the well-being of the individual. A study by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) reveals similar findings, according to which 90% of employees consider their employer’s family friendliness to be at least as important as their employer’s family friendliness. Fertility & family building benefits can offer a crucial differentiation in a competitive recruiting market. They are a sign of a modern and inclusive corporate culture. Companies can also position themselves as family-friendly employers.

What is Onuava offering?

Onuava is your partner for fertility & family building benefits in Germany. We can advise you on all aspects of fertility benefits and find the right solution for your company – tailored to your needs and budget. Contact us.

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