So, three weeks to go until the election and the parties are starting to publish their manifestoes, setting out all the ways they will improve the lives of workers. Look out for promises of pay rises for zero hour workers, free childcare and a 4 day week.
But will any party go as far as offering egg freezing as a business perk? Goldman Sachs is offering up to $20,000 for its employees to undergo egg harvesting and up to $10,00 to fund IVF treatment.
Why are they doing this you may ask. Well, in a memo to staff the chief executive explained that the new benefits were “designed to enable everyone in our workforce to better manage the commitment to their careers while starting, growing and supporting a family.” What he didn’t say was “we need to promote equality among our workforce after we had to admit that our gender pay gap was 50.6% for the year to April 2018.” Presumably women have been leaving the high-pressured banking world early in their careers to have children, leaving men to work their way up the corporate ladder and earn the higher salaries.
But is it really a good idea to encourage women to carry on working during their most fertile years in the hope that frozen eggs and IVF will produce an instant family whenever they want it.? IVF has a very high failure rate. According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, for women between 40 and 42 only 9% of cycles result in a baby. Between 43 and 44 there is only a 3% chance of IVF working.
Surely it is far better for employers to create a working environment where women can have children whenever they want and return to the same role on a flexible basis with a supportive employer. And to be fair Goldman Sachs does a lot more than most employers, offering London staff emergency nannies to look after unwell children and even shipping mothers' breast milk home to their children if they have to work overseas. We need more initiatives like this, together with more generous paternity benefits, if we are going to see an equal workplace.
Goldman Sachs is offering prospective parents on its staff up to $20,000 (£15,500) to cover the costs of extracting eggs