Unum increases adoption benefit limit to $25,000

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Scott Hagie and his wife Beth always knew they wanted to expand their family through adoption, and a $5,000 adoption benefit from their company Unum helped chip away at the list of expenses associated with the costly process.

“Pretty much everything costs money, from forms that have to be submitted to having fingerprints done, travel and hotels,” says Hagie, a benefits manager at Unum. “We knew about the $5,000 benefit and Unum was very supportive. The adoption benefit allows employees to be able to grow their family as they see fit.”

Starting this year, Unum increased their adoption benefit five-fold to $25,000, a decision that was made to increase accessibility to employees and bring the benefit in line with the rest of their family planning offerings.

“We had learned that $5,000 in financial assistance is very helpful for employees who already decided they wanted to adopt, but is often not enough to move the needle and make it possible for all employees,” says Liz Ahmed, executive vice president of people and communications at Unum. “We know that families get built in lots of different ways and we believe that this was a good opportunity to bring that in line with infertility support.”

Hagie and his wife began the adoption process more than two years before they were matched with their daughter, in March of 2019. Over the course of that time, they spent around $30,000 on expenses and travel related to the adoption process.

“Digging out $30,000 isn't easy for the majority of folks in the United States. However, we knew this was something we wanted to pursue,” he says.

Scott Hagie and his wife Beth took advantage of Unum's original $5,000 adoption benefit when adopting their daughter.

Hagie says the increased benefit could be crucial for families who may want to adopt but couldn’t afford to without financial assistance.

“The $5,000 benefit was a huge help but would not have changed the course for us. We were going to adopt regardless,” he says. “But a $25,000 benefit may very well be the make-or-break difference between someone being able to do that or not.”

Just 10% of companies offer adoption assistance and 29% offer paid adoption leave, according to the Society of Human Resource Management. But as workers wait until later in life to start their families, there has been a push to expand family planning support.

Benefits like IVF coverage, egg freezing, and surrogacy are in higher demand, especially among millennials. Sixty-eight percent of millennial workers say they consider fertility benefits when choosing an employer, and 90% of employees would switch jobs for fertility benefits, according to the Family Builder Workplace Index.

Companies are recognizing the need to support their employees at all stages of life. According to data from the Business Group on Health, 87% of employers cover infertility benefits, and 71% offer IVF support, which can cost $12,000-$17,000 for a single cycle.

In 2019, Procter & Gamble increased their fertility coverage to $40,000 from $5,000. Additionally, they equalized their PTO policy to offer both birth and adoptive parents 16 weeks of paid leave. Starbucks also boosted their benefits to provide up to $30,000 in fertility assistance for all employees.

At Unum, focusing on the well-being of their employees at all stages of life is a top priority, Ahmed says.

“Benefits like this aren’t perks for parents — they’re investments that clear some of those runways for working parents so they can thrive professionally,” she says. “This really supports our overall culture of well-being.”

Hagie says parents need to be supported no matter how they plan to start or expand their family. He says Unum helped both him and his wife transition into this new phase of their family life.

“We were both supported to take time off and use other benefits like paternity and maternity leave,” Hagie says. “All the pre-work up to it is not fun, but the value is once you’re able to make the connection with that child, that’s when the fun begins.”

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