30% took leave for fertility treatment without telling employer

fertility treatment without telling employerAlmost one-third (30%) of employees took annual, sick or unpaid leave from work for fertility treatment without telling their employer the real reason, according to research by Fertifa and Fertility Network UK.

The research, which collated more than 3,600 responses to reveal the impact of fertility challenges on individuals in the workplace, also found that 75% of respondents with fertility challenges said their productivity at work was strongly impacted, with one-third of these receiving very little or no support from their employer.

Almost one in five (18%) quit their jobs or took a significant change in responsibilities due to the impact fertility treatment was having on their lives, while 17% of women and 20% of men said they seriously considered quitting their jobs because of the impact.

Just under four-fifths (78%) said fertility support or a dedicated policy was important when they were considering a new job or employer, and 12% actively looked for a new job that offered better fertility benefits or had a policy in place.

One-third (33%) said they did not feel sufficiently equipped with knowledge or information to confidently navigate their fertility journey, with just 10% feeling well-equipped and knowing what to expect.

Meanwhile, 32% with fertility challenges said they were not at all financially prepared to go through it, with 95% of women not feeling well-prepared financially.

Dr Catherine Hill, head of policy and public affairs at Fertility Network, said: ‘Fertility Network and Fertifa’s survey reveals the shocking lack of workplace support for fertility patients as they juggle necessary medical care and work, and the continued stigma around fertility treatment in the workplace.

“We urge employers to be forward-thinking and implement family-friendly fertility policies detailing how many days fertility leave employees are entitled to, as well as developing a work environment understanding of the impact of infertility and its treatment. Enshrining reproductive health rights in workplace policies is long overdue and employers need to foster a culture of transparency, so women and their partners feel able to speak up about their reproductive health treatment.”