LGBTQ+ family planning: 3 questions to ask employers

September 07, 2022

As you prepare for your family to grow, make time with your employer to discuss what benefits are available to support you and your family—both financially and emotionally—during this exciting time. 

 

Congratulations on your expanding family! As you prepare to add a new member to the household, set aside some time with your manager or human resources specialist to make sure you’re taking advantage of any benefits available to help support you and your family during this time of transition.

While LGBTQ+ people are increasingly included in family planning and leave benefits, members of the community continue to lack the protection and access made available to non-LGBTQ+ people. To help guide the conversation with your employer, we’ve compiled a few questions.

 

1. What parental leave options are available for LGBTQ+ parents?

Where you live may determine how much, if any, leave is available to you. Approximately 37% of LGBTQ+ people live in a state where they can take leave to care for a child they are parenting — regardless of whether they are legally or biologically related to the child. In other areas of the U.S., laws may require a legal or biological relationship with the child, or there may be no laws regarding leave.

Even if you live in a state with limited or lacking leave laws, your employer may offer leave of absence (LOA) policies that grant you time off with your family. While the U.S. continues to rank poorly among other industrialized countries around the globe, an increasing number of private companies are revamping their leave policies to support parents of both traditional and non-traditional families.

Regardless of how progressive your company is, it’s important to understand your legal rights heading into the conversation with your employer.  

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees working in public agencies, elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50-plus people may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth and care of a child. While FMLA also protects second parents and parents welcoming a child through adoption, it’s worth checking with your employer to see whether any paid or additional time is available as you prepare for your extended leave.

 

2. What employee benefits are offered for LGBTQ+ family expansion?

Companies offering fertility benefits are on the rise, as more businesses continue to recognize the many ways there are to grow a family. In 2019, more than 60% of LGBTQ+ people planning to expand their families expected to become parents through assisted reproductive technology (ART), adoption or foster care, according to the Family Equality Council.

And as of 2020, 30% of U.S. companies provided fertility benefits ranging from coverage of IVF treatments and fertility medications to counseling and genetic testing. Your company may offer similar family-building benefits designed to support the expansion of your family emotionally and financially.

To help employees afford childcare, some companies help cover care costs — or even provide on-site childcare — through an employer-provided childcare benefit. While only 11% of workers had access to employer-provided childcare in 2020, the Employer-Provided Child Care Credit continues to incentivize companies to offer childcare assistance to their employees. If you do expect to pay for childcare, here are seven steps you can take to prepare for the costs.

Beyond family-building and childcare benefits, consider asking what other tools, programs or services may be available, such as paid leave to care for sick children, support for breastfeeding mothers and employee resource groups for new parents.

 

3. Will my health insurance cover medical costs and my future child?

As of June 2022, 14 states have passed fertility insurance coverage laws that include IVF coverage. If you live in one of these states or if your company covers IVF treatments, you’ll want to understand if the plan is fully insured (meaning an insurance company is determining what is or is not covered) or self-insured (where the employer decides what’s covered). You may encounter more limitations under a fully insured plan since your employer isn’t in control, but “IVF Riders” or “Infertility Riders,” which are add-ons that extend the benefits of your current policy, might be available.

If you’re pursuing parenthood through surrogacy, you’ll need to know whether your surrogate is covered on their own insurance. If they are not covered, you can purchase a policy for them or pay for the costs out of pocket. Consider asking your employer if surrogacy assistance is available to help offset the expenses incurred like donor sperm, donated eggs, IVF cycles and embryo transfer.

When your child finally arrives, don’t forget that they’ll need health insurance, too. Be proactive and ask your employer early what steps are needed to add the child to your insurance as a dependent and what plans will be available to you. If you have health insurance through your employer, you’ll have 30 days to add them from the date of birth or adoption.

 

Strengthening your LGBTQ+ family's support system

Support systems can expand beyond friends and family to include the workplace, too. Working in a supportive and inclusive environment is especially important for LGBTQ+ people who are navigating the path to parenthood and may encounter financial and legal barriers. Inclusive employers — such as those that rank highly on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) — are more likely to offer benefits geared toward LGBTQ+ employees.

For 20 years, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation has published the CEI — a report that rates how companies’ policies and practices further equity in the workplace for LGBTQ+ employees and their families. In 2022, 842 businesses — from Ben & Jerry’s to U.S. Bank — were designated a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.

 

Continue your LGBTQ+ family planning journey by visiting our resource page for more information to help you prepare.

 

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