Fertility In The Workplace is here to help employers gain a better appreciation of what infertility and fertility treatment entails for employees, as well as how it may impact on their colleagues and managers, to enable companies to provide much needed understanding and support.

Raising awareness and providing education and support in all workplaces.

 

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The issue of fertility health is sadly neglected in the UK – even though most people consider having children as the most important decision of their lives. Infertility is recognised by the World Health organisation as a disease of the reproductive system and should be handled at work in the same way as any other health condition, however it is often considered to be a non-medical condition and even a ‘life-style choice’. 1 in 6 of us worldwide are currently experiencing fertility problems, and all of those affected are of working age.

At Fertility Network UK we have shown repeatedly that most people experiencing fertility problems are reluctant to speak to their employer, because they fear it may have a detrimental effect on their career. We know it is not uncommon for staff to end up reducing their hours or quitting their job if they are unable to balance work and fertility issues. This can be a challenge for employers both operationally and financially, and why a growing number of firms now have a fertility policy in place, outlining the help available – they appreciate a supportive workplace is good for business as well as for employees. 

While maternity is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, under current legislation, until a woman who is trying to start a family is actually pregnant, she is not entitled to the same protections. While most who are trying to conceive naturally will be protected from unlawful discrimination at the point at which their bosses are informed of the pregnancy, many who are undergoing fertility treatments need to make bosses aware much earlier in the process of conception and are not currently awarded the same anti-discrimination rights. Research shows that these people find they are treated unfairly in terms of being allowed time off to attend medical appointments or are concerned that they will be overlooked for career opportunities due to the assumption that fertility treatments will end in a pregnancy and subsequent maternity leave. This is often not the case and people can undergo fertility treatments for many years, suffering financial, mental and physical pressures as a result, finding themselves overlooked in the workplace for promotion and opportunities, only to face a life of childlessness, not by choice, and all the grief and repercussions that come with that. 

Having a good understanding of what fertility treatments can involve and recognising that this is not a choice but a medical condition, can make all the difference to an employee in trying to juggle this difficult journey alongside their workplace commitments. Understanding from employers and colleagues that fertility treatments do not always have a happy ending is also crucial, as the assumption that if someone is having fertility treatments means they will be leaving to have a baby can be a very damaging one.

Flexibility & understanding is key! 

Contact our team to find out more about how you can advocate for fertility fairness in your organisation.