Around one in seven couples in the UK may have difficulties conceiving, which can have a significant impact on their wellbeing and mental health. However, our research shows there is lack of workplace provision to help people through this demanding time in their lives. It can be a long and uncertain road for employees facing difficulties conceiving, and we believe that practical support and compassion at work can make a significant difference to how someone balances the demands of work with that of fertility investigations and treatment.

This report is based on the findings of two surveys, looking at both employer provision and employees’ experiences at work. It explores the research and provides practical guidance to help people professionals to develop a framework of effective support.

We believe that there is a real opportunity for employers to improve the workplace environment for employees experiencing fertility challenges or treatments. It also sends a message to the whole workforce that your organisation genuinely cares about the wellbeing of its people, potentially time enhancing staff loyalty, retention and performance.

While these findings are based on UK data, the broader trends and implications should be of interest, wherever you are based.

Workplace support for employees experiencing fertility challenges, investigations or treatment

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Key findings

  • Just over a quarter (27%) of employers have a policy in place concerning fertility treatment, while 40% don’t have a formal policy and don’t plan to introduce one. 
  • 46% of employees said they felt neither supported or unsupported at work while having fertility challenges. Just under a fifth said they felt quite or very unsupported.
  • Almost half of employees (47%) didn’t tell their manager or HR they were experiencing fertility challenges. 
  • Over half of organisations (56%) providing some kind of support had not their told employees about it. 
  • The top three most helpful forms of support reported by employees were paid time off to attend appointments; understanding from managers; and paid compassionate leave.
  • Almost one in five (19%) employees said they had considered leaving their job because of their experience at work in relation to fertility challenges, investigation or treatment.

Based on these findings, the CIPD has developed some key principles to provide effective support.

CIPD good practice principles for workplace support

  1. Raise awareness across the organisation about the need for fertility challenges, investigations or treatment to be recognised as an important workplace wellbeing issue.
  2. Create an open, inclusive and supportive culture.
  3. Develop an organisational framework to support employees, including specific policy provision.
  4. Manage absence and leave with compassion and flexibility, considering the potential impacts on both partners.
  5. Equip line managers to support people with empathy and understanding. 

 

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