New research from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, shows a significant gap in workplace support for people experiencing fertility issues.

Nearly one in five (19%) people affected said they had considered leaving their job due to their experience at work while undergoing fertility challenges, investigations or treatment.

The CIPD’s accompanying guidance for employers, Workplace support for employees experiencing fertility challenges, investigations and treatment, shows that managing the health impacts of it alongside employment can be extremely difficult without an understanding employer.

Just under half of employees (47%) didn’t tell their manager or HR about their treatment or investigations, with 26% concerned about the possible impact on their career and 19% worried their employer wouldn’t be understanding or offer support.  
In response, the CIPD is calling for organisations to offer practical support, such as offering paid time off for appointments, flexible working options and training for managers so they can support staff with sensitive issues and create understanding environments where people can seek support.

Employers should provide a framework of support, says Rachel Suff, Senior Policy Adviser at the CIPD:

“Experiencing fertility challenges, investigations or treatment can have a significant impact on people’s physical and mental health, making it an important workplace wellbeing issue. Fertility challenges can feel like a very sensitive and difficult topic to discuss but the onus is on the organisation to create a compassionate and supportive culture so that people can share their experience and seek support if they want to. By providing a framework of support, employers will also benefit in terms of enhanced loyalty and staff retention. 

“Fertility issues don’t just affect women and organistions need to make sure their policies are inclusive of everyone’s situation including men, same sex couples, and people pursuing parenthood alone.”

On a positive note, the CIPD found that almost half (49%) of employers report providing some kind of support for employees pursuing fertility treatment, with flexible working to accommodate fertility treatment being the most common kind of support (27% of those providing support).

However:

  • Almost a fifth (19%) of employees with experience of fertility issues considered leaving their job due to their experience in work
  • 40% of employers don’t have a formal policy on fertility treatment and have no intention of introducing one
  • Only 22% of employers offer paid time off to attend appointments and manage the demands of fertility treatment, despite 40% of employees saying this form of support was or would have been most helpful with their experience of fertility challenges, investigations or treatment
  • 64% of employees with experience of fertility issues/challenges who didn’t feel supported at work felt that support from their employer would have been beneficial to them 

Overall, the CIPD’s research shows that there’s an opportunity for employers to make a big difference to how people cope at a difficult time. 

Notes to editor

  • The CIPD surveyed 2,023 senior HR professionals and decision-makers in the UK. Fieldwork was undertaken online between 22 March and 18 April 2022.The figures have been weighted and are representative of UK employment by organisation size, sector and industry.
  • The CIPD surveyed 300 UK employees online who had experienced fertility challenges, investigations or treatment while in employment within the last five years. The fieldwork was conducted between 10-20 June 2022 and the figures are unweighted. 

Read the report

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