Paid leave for fertility treatment?

Currently you have no legal right to take paid leave for fertility treatment. A private members’ bill proposing that couples undergoing IVF are allowed statutory time off work for appointments and treatment, is having its second reading (17 March 2023). The bill has been brought by MP Nickie Aiken after concerns about lack of legal rights.

Nickie Aiken campaign time off for IVF appointments
Nickie Aiken MP campaigning to give a legal right to time off for IVF treatment. Credit:

Although many big companies have sections in their codes of practice regarding the protocol when someone is going through fertility treatment, there is no legal requirement for employers to give staff time off work and many organisations are unsure of the best way to support their employees.

“Most workplace protection policies exclude ‘elective’ medical processes, placing fertility treatment in the same category as cosmetic surgery,” says Ms Aiken.

“I believe IVF treatment should be categorised as ‘antenatal’ and thus patients be given the same work rights. I’m now campaigning to secure a change in the law to ensure individuals and couples are given the rights they deserve at what is already an incredibly stressful time.”

There are many ways that Bourn Hall can help you to balance treatment with your work pressures – including timing the start of treatment – contact us to discuss

Fertility Network UK’s 2021 survey looking at the mental health impact of fertility treatment on workplace performance and job satisfaction found that one in five people did not inform their employer about having fertility treatment and nearly two thirds of people felt the need to hide the real reason for time taken off for appointments and fertility-related illness.

“The demographics of those people impacted by fertility issues mean they are likely to form a core element of every employer’s workforce,” said Gwenda Burns, CEO of Fertility Network UK. “It is therefore vital that employers are able to support those impacted, so levels of distress associated with fertility treatment are reduced and employees are more likely to be productive and remain in the workplace.”

Ways that employers can help are outlined in recent guidance by the CIPD – which may be useful to show your HR department.

Dr Thanos Papathanasiou

Bourn Hall's approach to balancing treatment with work

Bourn Hall offers flexibility to minimise the impact of treatment on work, this includes:-

  • Virtual consultations which are more time-effective for patients who wish to avoid the need to travel to the clinic for a face-to-face consultation, or those that need to balance working in different locations.
  • Flexibility over when treatment starts – a cycle takes about 8 weeks.
  • A treatment plan is agreed before treatment starts and the appointments are scheduled in with you – there are approximately 7 in person appointments for the female partner in a cycle of IVF (bloods, scans, egg collection and embryo transfer).
  • Personalised advice is given by a nutritional specialist to boost fertility and promote mental wellbeing
  • Counselling is part of treatment – two free sessions are included per cycle
  • Time off is not required between embryo transfer and pregnancy test.

If you are going through fertility treatment and are worried about the implications of it on your work, or how to bring up the subject with your boss, then the Bourn Hall Fertility Support Group may be a place to turn. It is an informal group of people who are going through IVF who might be able to offer advice or share experiences. Read more details on the Fertility Support Group meetings.

Balancing IVF treatment and work has featured in several group meeting, including When to tell your boss you are having IVF.

More information

More about: Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill – Parliamentary Bills – UK Parliament

More about Fertility in the Workplace initiative by Fertility NetworkUK. The Fertility in the Workplace initiative can helps employers to implement a fertility policy and ensure staff and managers understand the impact of fertility and treatment so they can support others.

Fertility Support at Bourn Hall

Related articles