55% of UK employees who struggle with fertility issues or who are going through fertility treatment are not getting appropriate support from their employers, according to a study from Fertility Network UK, commissioned by Middlesex University.
The report by Fertility Network UK found that more than 3.5 million people in the UK are presently struggling with infertility, and the majority of them are working. While some employees choose not to disclose this information to their employer out of fear it may have a detrimental effect on their career, the study found that 77% of workers had disclosed this to their employers. However, only a quarter felt their employer had a supportive workplace policy.
A further recent report from CIPD found that nearly one in five employees say they had considered leaving their job because of their experience at work in relation to fertility challenges, investigations or treatment. The CIPD latest research, Workplace support for employees experiencing fertility challenges, shows there is a lack of workplace provision to help people through these trials.
For many people who are experiencing fertility issues, this can be an extremely emotional and stressful time. While some employees are mindful of this and provide support, others do not, and this can be difficult for those suffering.
So, how can employers support employees who experience fertility issues?
Create a supportive and open culture
Creating an environment where your employees feel they can open up about issues affecting them, without fear of repercussion, is important for both productivity and wellbeing.
Your business may benefit from Fertility Awareness Training Courses to equip your managers with the skills and understanding to support employees during this time, and to know where further sources of information are available.
Line managers should also be aware that employees can attend necessary appointments, consultations, and procedures without needing to use their annual leave entitlement or without calling in sick, and that flexible or home working options are available to them. Likewise, employers can reduce stress by routinely checking in with the employee to support their wellbeing.
Offering a flexible working environment for employees can be highly beneficial. Providing time off for visits and treatments may limit interruption to day-to-day operations, reducing the number of unscheduled absences and alleviating the pressure on mental health. Many businesses that have previously adopted a flexible workplace have noticed an increase in employee happiness and productivity. Further, this might help with employee retention in the long term.
Introducing a fertility treatment policy is helpful to both employers and staff. Having a policy in place displays a knowledge of infertility problems and possible treatments available. If workers who experience these issues feel understood they are likely to be more inclined to communicate with employers. A policy can also eliminate any confusion and preserve employees’ expectations of the assistance offered.
However, when creating a fertility treatment policy, it’s important to be careful not to presume that it only applies to staff members who are in heterosexual relationships, or even employees who are in a relationship at all.
If you would like custom HR support in implementing workplace policies don’t hesitate to get in contact with our expert HR team today here – Hertfordshire’s leading HR consultancy which can bring your business the benefits, protection and experience of an entire HR department.