Despite NHS figures showing that around one in seven couples have problems with fertility, it’s still widely viewed as a taboo topic and one that is very rarely acknowledged in the workplace.
However, things are changing. In recent years a growing number of employers have been introducing support for staff who are undergoing fertility treatment in recognition of the fact that there is a demand for such help from employees. This is somewhat unsurprising given that reproductive issues can have a profound effect on people’s health and wellbeing, but the rate at which progress is being made is impressive.
In the space of just a week, we have published three news stories which have highlighted organisations that have implemented policies concerning such treatments.
At Weightmans law firm, for example, the new policies formalised a support framework, focusing on training and raising awareness of fertility issues. Meanwhile, accounting business PricewaterhouseCoopers is allowing its employees to take paid time off to undergo fertility treatments from this month (July), specifically eight days of paid leave for related consultations and appointments. Those supporting partners who are having fertility treatment will be entitled to two days of paid leave.
Global food business General Mills also expanded policies for its UK and Ireland workforce to include allowing flexibility for staff during rounds of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment.
Indeed, there is no doubt that employees undergoing, or supporting a partner who is undergoing, fertility treatment need a flexible and understanding employer. And, of course, offering flexibility builds good working relationships and makes for happy staff, which is likely to lead to improved workplace performance.
So while the topic of fertility is incredibly personal and sensitive, employers shouldn’t shy away from introducing policies that can ultimately improve staff wellbeing and productivity.