Recent news that the US military are following in the footsteps of Apple and Google, by offering egg and sperm freezing as an employment benefit for soldiers, shows an emerging trend for employers across the world to consider this issue. Not only does this raise numerous medical (and some would also say ethical) issues to consider, employers and any employees taking the offer have potentially complex legal questions to tackle too.
Giles Wilson is uniquely placed to be able to offer cross-departmental advice in both employment law and fertility law to enable the best outcome for clients (whether employer or employee).
Steps for Employers
For example, employees should be aware of the medical implications and the current relatively low success rate of live births from frozen eggs (currently around 1 in 8). In addition, specialist wills may be appropriate in order to address what will happen to the frozen eggs, sperm or even embryos on death.
There needs to also be a consideration of ownership of frozen eggs should a couple divorce, such as in the US case involving Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara. This is an extremely new and as yet undeveloped area of fertility law, and so it is even more important to have good legal advice and representation.
On the other hand, employers need to consider issues such as clear contracts setting out precisely the terms of the benefit, as without these they could face spiralling costs that they had initially not planned for. For example, many freezing services do not cover the costs of storage of the frozen gametes that, if employers are not clear in the initial agreement, could unintentionally become part of the ‘freezing benefit’. The benefit may also require the employee take leave – but will this be paid?
Clear legal advice would protect both parties in the future, and Giles Wilson has been a leading firm in the growing area of fertility law. So if this is an area on which you are seeking advice, contact one of our solicitors in Essex.