Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples in the UK, but is still not openly discussed, especially in the workplace. The CIPD’s latest survey report Workplace Support for Fertility Challenges found that employees experiencing fertility challenges feel an underwhelming lack of support from employers.  In fact, 1 in 5 people experiencing fertility challenges have considered leaving work, highlighting the need for more workplace support.  

In an interview on BBC Breakfast News (see 28.31 minutes in), the CIPD’s Rachel Suff explained that people need an understanding and supportive employer to help them cope with the mental, physical and financial well-being implications of fertility treatment.

The report found that nearly half of employers (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.  

“Fertility challenges can feel like a very sensitive and difficult topic to discuss but the onus is on employers 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.”  

Rachel Suff, Senior Policy Adviser, CIPD

Key findings in the report indicate that: 

  • Nearly 19% of employees considered leaving their job due to their experience in work while undergoing fertility treatment or investigations.
  • 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 who didn’t feel supported at work felt that support from their employer would have been beneficial to them while undergoing fertility treatment or investigations. 

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