Unum ups adoption assistance to $25,000

The insurance company’s benefit boost is its latest effort to help working parents.
By: | January 28, 2020 • 2 min read

Unum has increased the adoption assistance it offers employees in its latest effort to grow and enhance its family-friendly benefit offerings. The insurance company will now provide $25,000 to employees adopting a child, up from the $5,000 it previously offered.

The benefit is available to all full-time U.S. employees who have worked at Unum for a year. Part-time employees also can take advantage of the program, but with a reduced benefit amount depending on their hours, Unum says.

The company says the benefit is a way to support its 9,500 U.S. employees, boost wellbeing and invest in its workforce.

“The journey to parenthood is different for every parent and can be physically, emotionally and financially taxing,” says Liz Ahmed, executive vice president of people and communications. “Ensuring that adoption is a plausible path for employees is one small way we can support their overall wellbeing.”

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“Benefits like these are not just perks for parents—they’re investments that clear the runway for working parents to thrive professionally, meet their goals and bring their best to work each day,” she continues.

Related: An inside look at April’s Health & Benefits Leadership Conference

The benefit also aims to help employees expand their families without worrying about the financial burden involved. The average cost of adoption from foster care is $2,500, and private domestic and international adoptions average upward of $43,000, according to research from Adoptive Families Magazine, which was cited by Unum. Those costs don’t include lost wages from work to bond with the child once adopted.

Unum employees Scott Hagie and his wife, Beth, used the employer’s $5,000 benefit to adopt 2-year-old Charlotte (far right) last March.

Though only a small handful of employees have used its adoption benefit in the past, Ahmed says, Unum is betting more will take advantage of the increased financial support. “For some people who assumed adoption was never a possibility because of the costs, this may help make it possible,” she says.

Related: 15 employers that made employee benefit changes in 2019

Like many other employers, Unum has been zeroing in on benefits to help its employees who are parents. In 2018, Unum rolled out a six-week paid parental leave policy, making new moms and dads employed at the company eligible for six weeks of paid time off to care for a newborn, or a child placed through adoption or foster care, at any time during the 12 months following birth, adoption or fostering.

Unum also increased its infertility benefit to $25,000 for employees who have difficulty conceiving. Additionally, Unum offers working parents flexible work arrangements, dedicated lactation rooms at home offices and a breast milk shipping benefit through provider Milk Stork.

Related: Is breast-milk shipping the next big benefit?

Unum began an intentional effort to help employees on their parenting journey a few years ago, Joanne Abate, Unum’s assistant vice president of global benefits and insurance, explained last fall at the National Business Group on Health’s Workforce Strategy conference in San Diego.

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“We were looking at our demographics; we’re about 67% female … and we were discovering we had mothers who were rising leaders in our organization and were trying to have a family and do all the things they needed to do outside their work and try to bring that into work,” she said. “We needed to really address how they were going to have children and take a leave from work and how we could support that as best we could.”

Hot benefit trends, including family-friendly perks, will be among the topics discussed at HRE’s Health & Benefits Leadership Conference, held April 15-17 at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. To register, visit https://www.benefitsconf.com/

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.