World’s first IVF clinic Bourn Hall partners with national charity Fertility Network UK to help more employers implement ‘fertility fairness’ in their workplace

The world’s first IVF clinic, Bourn Hall, is joining forces with the UK’s national fertility charity, Fertility Network UK, on their Fertility in the Workplace (FiTW) initiative, which helps firms support staff experiencing fertility struggles. 

“One in six people have difficulties conceiving, and all are of working age. Infertility impacts both partners and can create devastating effects on all areas of their lives,” said Claire Heuclin, Fertility Network UK’s FiTW coordinator. “We are delighted Bourn Hall is partnering with us on our Fertility in the Workplace initiative.” 

A recent survey by Fertility Network and Fertifa showed that nearly eight out of ten (78%) people, who have experienced fertility issues, said that fertility support or a fertility policy was very important when they were considering a new job or employer.  

Flexibility to attend appointments and promoting greater understanding of what fertility treatment involves are two practical ways in which a fertility policy can help employers provide a more supportive working environment and retain staff. 

“If employers and managers are aware of what fertility treatments involve and what the outcomes can look like, they can better understand the associated stress and can create safe spaces for staff to talk in confidence,” Claire continued. 

Dr Thanos Papathanasiou, CEO and Medical Director of Bourn Hall, the world’s first IVF clinic, said: 

“Many people have little knowledge of infertility or how it is treated. As a fertility clinic we can bring this clinical knowledge to FiTW and we are deeply committed to supporting Fertility Network UK in delivering this programme. 

“While it is important for employers to make adjustments to support their staff, there is also a role for fertility clinics to be more supportive of people balancing treatment with work – so patients can keep ‘under the radar’ and not disclose their treatment if they wish, or by recognising the need for more flexible appointment and protocols in order to minimise the impact on a patient’s working day. 

“We talk to patients who don’t want to jeopardise their careers, so they are trying to make appointments and inject hormone medication in secret – all the while balancing a rollercoaster of emotions from hope to despair. 

“Additionally, some types of work can evoke emotional triggers. We see patients in professions such as teaching, midwifery, and the police where they work closely with children, often in distressing situations – and their managers have no knowledge of their personal trauma.” 

The Fertility in the Workplace initiative provides education and support packages to employers to help them develop pragmatic fertility policies that work for them and their staff, as well as providing effective signposting and wellbeing support. 

It also offers 1:1 support to employees so that they understand their workplace rights and how to approach their employer. 

Until March 2025, thanks to funding from the Department of Health, these support packages are provided free of charge to small and medium enterprises across England. 

Fertility Network UK is also part of the Workplace Fertility Campaign Group convened by MP Nickie Aiken. 

Nickie Aiken will be hosting a drop in event for MPs on March 13th at Westminster, to raise awareness of the Fertility Workplace Pledge, alongside her Private Members’ Bill, Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill, which would give employees a legal right to take time off for fertility appointments. 

This event provides an opportunity for MPs to discuss this area of wellbeing at work. Dr Papathanasiou will be attending to provide insight into the clinical side of fertility treatments and Bourn Hall’s work with FiTW. 

More information about Fertility in the Workplace and the Fertility Workplace Pledge can be found here