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Apple and Facebook will cover the cost of freezing employees' eggs

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Apparently, Facebook has been offering to cover the costs of egg freezing for female employees since January 1st this year, and you know who's following in its footsteps? Apple. The iPhone-maker plans to offer the same service to its employees starting in January 2015. According to NBCNews, these two might just be the first employers willing to pay for the entire cost of egg freezing for non-medical reasons, which means everyone qualifies for the benefit, not just cancer patients for whom the procedure was originally intended. Most likely, employers hope to encourage female staff members to stay with them even during the last few years most women can conceive (late 30's to early 40's), as those are also the years one typically takes on senior positions. They're probably also betting on the move to save them recruiting and hiring costs in the long run, while keeping top talent around and promoting gender diversity at the same time.

Egg freezing, as you might have guessed, allows women to store their egg cells until they're ready to get pregnant. These eggs taken during a woman's younger years have better chances of being fertilized later on, though the procedure doesn't guarantee a 100 percent success rate. Harvesting around 10 eggs cost around $10,000, with storage adding $500 per year to that amount -- both Facebook and Apple are willing to cover up to 20 grand.

While we're sure there are many women who'd love to take advantage of the opportunity, this move will surely face a lot of criticisms. Some might view it as a ploy to make women sacrifice their childbearing years all for the sake of climbing up the corporate ladder. Others might be worried that having this option readily available places additional pressure on women to put having children on hold. Harvard Law School professor Glenn Cohen also raised a valid point in a blog post last year, where he asked: "...would [female employees] take this as a signal that the firm thinks that working there as an associate and pregnancy are incompatible?"

Still, egg freezing advocates believe it's the right time to offer the procedure as a perk at work, as more and more people become open to the possibility of going through it. According to the founder of Extend Fertility, which promotes egg freezing in the US, more women now also view it as a means of empowerment and not just their last chance to have a child.

[Image credit: AFP/Getty Images]

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