A private members’ bill proposing that couples undergoing IVF are allowed statutory time off work for appointments and treatment, has its first reading today (20 June 2022). The bill has been brought by MP Nickie Aiken after concerns about lack of legal rights.
As things stand there is no legal requirement for employers to give staff time off work for IVF treatment. Although many big companies have sections in their codes of practice regarding the protocol when someone is going through fertility treatment, 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.”
Survey finds one in five people didn’t tell the boss
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.
Fertility support at Bourn Hall
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.
Bourn Hall offers 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.