Talking to your company about fertility in the workplace
By Zoe Seymour, Fertifa
1 in 6 couples in the UK – or 3.5 million people – experience fertility challenges and nearly 70,000 IVF treatment cycles are carried out each year in the UK.
Many of these couples are working professionals, having to juggle the mental, physical and financial impact that fertility treatment can have on their wellbeing. But this shouldn’t have to be the case.
Work is a place to work.
For many of us work takes up the majority of our daily lives. Yet keeping your mind focused on the task at hand is often difficult while undergoing fertility treatment or trying to conceive.
While you may have friends at work that you share your challenges with, you might feel that there is a stigma or taboo about talking about fertility in the workplace.
The silver lining is that attitudes in the workplace are changing.
In 2019, LinkedIn undertook some research into the demand for reproductive health benefits in the UK.
- 66% of UK employers thought that fertility support in the workplace should be considered a statutory right
- 82% said their organisation was expecting to enhance its fertility benefits programmes
In the same year, a Willis Towers Watson survey found that 33% of UK young workers believed fertility benefits, such as egg freezing and subsidised IVF treatment, should be offered by employers.
COVID-19 has encouraged UK employers to rethink their approach to employee health and wellbeing, with many introducing reproductive health education, support (and even employer-funded fertility treatment in some cases!) to their employees.
But what happens if your employer doesn’t have reproductive healthcare support at the top of their agenda?
Here are our top tips to starting a conversation within your organisation.
Talk to your HR department
Employees play a huge part in making HR departments aware that there is a need for family-friendly policies that provide support for people who want fertility and reproductive healthcare support.
HR departments are usually aware of industry benefit trends and your enquiry may encourage them to look into how they can support you, and your colleagues, further.
Speaking to your manager can also be helpful – especially if they are willing to join you in future conversations with HR.
Alternatively, they may be able to speak to HR anonymously on your behalf.
Approach working networks / communities
In mid to large-sized companies, there are often many working networks that can offer support from other colleagues who have been in a similar situation. These include:
- LGBT+/Pride networks
- Parenting networks
- Fertility networks
- Women’s networks
- Family networks
My experience is that these (often really friendly!) communities work closely with HR to ensure appropriate, relevant support can be accessed in the workplace.
Speak to us!
We fully understand that some employees may not want their employers to know that they are experiencing reproductive health challenges. We are more than happy to have the conversation on your behalf (maintaining confidentiality and anonymity).
Drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with Fertility Network at email@example.com – both companies work closely with HR departments across the UK to educate and empower staff to understand why fertility support in the workplace is important.
We will never mention your name or any other identifying details to your employer.
And finally…you’re not alone!
Every fertility journey is unique, and the support is there if you need it. Fertifa’s leadership team developed its workplace support programmes through its own experiences. Many of my colleagues are experiencing their own fertility journeys.
If you’d like to speak to me or one of my colleagues for a free, impartial chat, you can book some time here. We’re happy to have a chat about your journey so far and provide you with the tools and support to help you make the next step.
Zoe Seymour is a fertility advisor at Fertifa.