Egg-freezing slammed as an ‘anti-family’ perk; firms vulnerable to ex-employee attacks

A leading professor claims employer-provided egg freezing is actually an 'anti-family' perk, as it's cheaper for them to pay for this than lose key staff:

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Apr 14, 2023

Egg-freezing staff perks suit employers not employees, says academic

An eminent university professor has condemned egg-freezing employee perks as merely there to “maximize the worker’s time and commitment to the job and minimize their investments in their own family including when it comes to having family in the first place.” The claim, by University of Virginia sociology professor, W. Bradford Wilcox, blasts the perk as being an anti family policy, because it makes life easier for employers and erodes Americans’ chances of becoming parents themselves. Although employers often claim the benefit is there to boost female representation (some 42% of firms now cover IVF and 19% cover egg freezing), Wilcox said employers are merely “trying to get the employee to kick the can down the road, so that in the moment, they are fully attached to the job.” He continued: “It’s sold as a work-family policy, but it’s really about minimizing women’s opportunities to have kids in the prime years when it’s easiest for them to have children.” Data from the US Census Bureau shows the share of women in the workforce decreases by 18% in the quarter they have their first child, and this number decreases again with more children. It is a “huge expense to lose a good worker to parenthood,” Wilcox added, because companies invest time, resources, and money on training and cultivation. “That expense is effectively a lot greater than the cost of freezing her eggs.”

Employers vulnerable to ex-employees gaining access to their systems

A new poll suggests employers are failing to stop former employees log into their systems. A survey of more than 1,000 US workers found that nearly half of them (47%) had abused former passwords to access their former accounts, such as emails, software, and other digital tools related to their previous job. Even more worryingly, 10% admitted they did so with the sole intent to disrupt their former company’s activities. The survey, conducted by Password Manager, also revealed that 58% of respondents said their former company failed to change, or invalidate their passwords, while 44% said they could still access old files even when a password had been changed. Top reasons for wanting access to a former employers network or resources included getting access to paid subscriptions (25%) to disrupt company activities (10%), to access company emails (64%) and to access company data (44%). “Companies are responsible for the integrity of their operations,” said Daniel Farber Huang, head of privacy and cyber security. “Ideally the company creates standard operating procedures or consistent schedules of updating passwords based on criticality.”

Republicans to examine gig worker laws ahead of Su nomination

Republicans are set to examine California’s Assembly Bill 5 (which will make it harder for gig workers to classify as contractors), ahead of Julie Su nomination to be the US Secretary of Labor. Su, is a well-known supporter of the bill, while Republican lawmakers and app-based companies, like Uber, want the presumption of the bill – that workers are employees rather than contractors – to be removed. The House Workforce Protections subcommittee will examine California’s Assembly Bill 5 on April 19, just a day before Su’s scheduled nomination hearing in the Senate. The Senate is responsible for voting on Su’s nomination, but House Republicans hope a hearing on the issue could help raise awareness about her record ahead of the Senate’s consideration. “By illustrating just how disastrous these policies are, it does provide a new perspective for the Senate to consider in the confirmation hearing,” said Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.), the Workforce Protections subcommittee’s chairman, in an interview with Bloomberg Law.

Best Places to Work in the Federal Government revealed

Space agency, NASA, has once again been declared the best place to work in federal government – for a staggering 11th-year running – with an employee engagement score of 84.3. This is head and shoulders ahead of the next-best place – the Department of Health and Human Services (74.3) and the agencies that comprise the Intelligence Community (71.9). But not only is the dominance of a single employer a worry, in compiling the data, it was also found that federal workers feel less engaged in their jobs overall for the second year running. Based on survey responses from more than 880,000 workers across 506 federal agencies and subcomponents, the 2022 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government report revealed that average federal worker engagement was 63.4 out of 100 – down by 1.1 percentage points when compared to 2021. Amongst the 17 large federal agencies polled, employees at the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration recorded the lowest engagement scores – each in the 50s. Commenting on the data Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service said: “It is not a good number. And two years declining is a problem. It’s low to start with and it’s heading in the wrong direction.” Federal workers aged 30-39 reported the lowest engagement and satisfaction scores (at 59). By comparison, workers aged 60 and over averaged 71.6.

Business travel on the up, but could be stifled by ESG commitments

After the near-collapse of business travel during the Covid-19 pandemic, comes the news that corporate travel spend in the US is projected to surpass half of 2019 levels in the first half of 2023. International trips will account for a larger portion of the recovery this year, with the international share of travel costs for US companies expected to rise from 21% in 2022 to 33% in 2023. But, what could dampen things slightly, is the parallel finding that one-third of US companies say they’ll need to reduce travel per employee by more than 20% to meet their 2030 sustainability targets. The data comes from the just-published Navigating Toward a New Normal report by Deloitte. It finds that corporate travel spend across the US and Europe is expected to rise to more than half (57%) of pre-pandemic levels in the first half of 2023, surging to 71% by the end of the year. The main drivers are to connect with global industry colleagues at conferences and to build client relationships. But a majority of companies surveyed (70%) said they would now strategically evaluate business travel against returns such as revenue generation, as well as the side effects of cost, health risks and emissions.

CEO pay went up, while staff saw their pay go down…

While it’s not often a surprise, it’s seldom a good look when it’s revealed just how much more CEO earns compared to their average employee. But to really rub salt into wounds comes news that Chevron’s CEO – Michael Wirth – saw his pay go up 4% (to $23.6 million), while median annual compensation for his employees actually fell 12%. Chevron’s latest securities filing showed that Chevron’s profit more than doubled in 2022 to a record $36.5 billion, but at the same time, it also instituted payroll reductions. Under a new metric required by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Wirth’s “actual compensation paid” rose 60% to $86.7 million when equity awards, pension benefit adjustments and other compensation were factored in. Chevron said the figure did not represent Wirth’s actual realized compensation, as it includes equity-based awards, the value of which is not known until options are exercised or stock is sold. According to shareholder advocacy group, As You Sow, Wirth last year ranked 87th on a list of 100 CEOs. It says the boss receives an unjustifiable level of pay.

…as wage growth gains are found to be slowing for the lowest paid

After more than a year of record wage growth for those considered to be on the lowest incomes (those mainly working in hospitality and leisure), these gains are now slowing, according to latest data from the Bureau of Labor statistics. Between February 2020 and the end of 2022, America’s lowest-paid employees saw their wages grow by 24% – rising from an average of $14.90 per hour to $18.51 per hour. But, latest data reveals this has drastically decelerated, with data from March showing average hourly pay for those in production and nonsupervisory roles growing by just 5.1% year-on-year. According to analysis of the data by Goldman Sachs, much of the initial wage growth was caused by temporary factors including a decline in labor supply, government policies that discouraged workers from taking jobs, and energy and other price spikes pushing up the cost of living. The tight labor market, it said, gave low-wage workers lots of leverage over their employers. The report said: “All of these have fully or partially faded on their own and appear to have solved much of the problem of lowering wage growth.”

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