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In recent years more and more employees have been grateful that their employers have a IVF Policy, clearly setting out what they can expect if they start fertility treatment during their employment.

IVF itself is a common and yet much understood workplace issue and one that needs Line Manager’s to be both supportive yet consistent with their policy.

So, what can you do to help support those going through IVF Treatment.

Infertility affects around 3.5 million people in the UK according to the NHS. That’s around 1 in 7 couples. Many who undergo IVF treatment are women over 35 years of age and increasing numbers self fund. Infertility is a medical problem and employers should ensure their approach to supporting employees with IVF is no different to how they would support their employee with any other medical issue.

Let’s not forget partners. Those who love someone who is undergoing the physical IVF treatment is also in need of our support as their employer. It’s as important that partners can have open and honest conversations with their Line Managers about their concerns. Otherwise it can lead to time being lost through stress.

We feel the key to creating a supportive and consistent environment is communication. The employer needs to encourage open conversation between the parties. What one woman undergoing IVF wants may be very different from another woman. For example, some women are very private and want to talk about support but additionally insist that their decision to seek fertility treatment is confidential. Others want to tell everyone in order to feel their support and want you to be open and honest with others regarding their situation. Both approaches can cause problems for the employer.

Additionally, we would encourage the employer who operates a Day Nursery, Pre-school or Out of School Club to consider how their workplace may impact a woman contemplating, undergoing or recovering from IVF treatment. No one size fits all and the adoption of a IVF policy is a start that is followed by open and honest communication.

Common questions that women undertaking IVF may have:

  1. Can I have time off for the treatments? The law doesn’t give time off for IVF treatment until after the embryo has been implanted.
  2. Can I reduce my workload whilst I am having treatment? There’s nothing to stop employers and employees coming to a temporary flexible working arrangement and this is to be encouraged.
  3. Can I have a room to take my injections/pessaries during the working day? We can all agree the toilet isn’t appropriate.
  4. Can I have somewhere quiet to go when it’s all too much? IVF has a greater than 50% failure rate so women who return to work following a failed IVF treatment may find working with babies and toddlers particularly difficult.  Phrases like you can try again and there’s always next time can be particularly unhelpful. An EAP might be a great place to sign post the employee to.

If we can provide any assistance with supporting you to support an employee undertaking IVF, please do not hesitate to call us on 01527 909436.