EXCLUSIVE: 36% of employers offer no fertility support

More than a third of UK businesses have no plans to offer fertility support to their employees, despite growing recognition of its benefits.

Research from Peppy, the digital health and wellbeing platform, showed that 36% of employers do not provide this support and have no plans to do so in the future.

Less than a quarter (22%) of respondents have “always” offered fertility support services, but 15% of those surveyed had introduced it for staff in the past year.

Dr Mridula Pore, chief executive of Peppy, said: “Fertility support is not just for those who will experience fertility problems, but it is also about providing support and resources for staff at this significant time in their lives when they are starting or expanding a family.”

Three in 10 (30%) of more than 500 employers surveyed recognised fertility as a topic that employees find difficult to raise with HR, line managers and colleagues. The same proportion said that mental health issues associated with fertility struggles are a key area that requires support.

Employers said the most critical fertility issue with which employees need support is miscarriage and baby loss (33%).

“As a growing number of employers are finding, it makes good business sense to provide fertility support for employees,” added Pore. “If employers do not offer support, employees may need to take time off to get that support elsewhere or indeed may not reach out for any support and suffer in silence. This has potential consequences for their employer including loss in engagement and productivity – and the risk of increased absence.”

The research, conducted by Opinium for Peppy in September, found that 11% of employers are in the process of arranging fertility support, while 7% plan to in the next 12 months.

Pore continued: “Fertility can be seen as a very binary issue – employees and their partners either are or aren’t pregnant. This monthly cycle of hope and despair can be particularly difficult for employers to manage.”

She added that it’s important to ensure support is available to all staff, and that employers don’t make assumptions around age, gender or someone’s personal situation.

Nearly one in five employers (19%) said managing productivity and staff distraction was an issue when employees experience fertility issues, but 18% had concerns about employees leaving work altogether.