How To Address Infertility in the Workplace

Eloise Edington  |  4 Oct 2021

Fertility Help

Infertility is becoming an increasingly prominent concern, affecting one in eight people. Employers need to accept that employees may be dealing with infertility and should be accommodated fairly. Infertility affects a person’s stress levels, as well as their emotional and physical wellbeing, so it’s essential to find ways to be a mindful employer. Similarly, it’s important to know how to address your own infertility in the workplace.

Read on to find out Fertility Help Hub’s advice for addressing infertility in the workplace.

By Katherine Compton

As an employee, how do  you address infertility in the workplace?

We all know infertility affects stress and can be anxiety-inducing and physically taxing overall – especially if you are undergoing invasive fertility treatments. It can consume your life and affect your mood. So how do you ask your employer for support you need while going through this difficult time?

Well, the first thing to note is that your employer should try to understand your struggles. Infertility is very common and, depending upon which state or country you live and work in, there will possibly be infertility benefits in place for you as well as maternity rights. If not, here is some fertility advice on how to detail your needs and ask for support:

Have a conversation or a meeting with your employer or HR Department

You may have fears around your infertility and what this might mean for your job, so you need to find out what you are entitled to in your particular situation. Different countries have different laws on whether employees have the right to take time off for medical appointments for fertility treatment. It may be paid, or unpaid, or counted as part of annual leave. However, it is good practice for employers to be sympathetic to such requests. An open and frank discussion with your line manager or your company’s HR Department and making clear what kind of time off you are going to need is a good starting point. Don’t expect your boss to guess your needs. You will benefit from as clear a timetable as is possible from your fertility clinic to inform this meeting, although there will definitely be a degree of unpredictability.

You will need to ask for some flexibility in your schedule in order to attend fertility appointments, and your employer will be grateful for as few surprises as possible.  Ideally, you will want to have the time off work that you need to attend these appointments at the fertility clinic, whilst knowing that your job is secure and that you will not be penalised for your medical situation. This may feel daunting but remember that asking for time-off allowances due to medical reasons is something your employer is prepared for and will understand — it is not an outlandish request.

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As an employer, how do I support employees struggling with (in)fertility?

As an employer, you have a responsibility to be mindful towards all employees and to be sympathetic to their medical needs.  This may look like:

  • Being clear about job security and, if your company offers fertility benefits or resources, being sure to make this known to your employees. These might be benefits like therapy or counselling services, mental health resources and grief or loss support
  • Keeping communication open and easy
  • Having a sympathetic attitude to what can be a devastating diagnosis, followed by intrusive treatment.  Remember that infertility causes stress but the need for time-off is usually temporary
  • Showing flexibility and a willingness to accept a temporary change to the pattern of work
  • Remembering that male employees may also need infertility treatment, such as surgery after a diagnosis of azoospermia. Or they may need time-off to attend fertility clinics with their partner who is undergoing invasive treatment, or to support their surrogate through appointments and be a part of the process
  • Creating support groups and resources such as links to Fertility Help Hub, Trying to Conceive or Parents in Waiting
  • Raising awareness via advertising the weeks or months which are dedicated to specific infertility aspects, such as National Infertility Awareness Week, PCOS Awareness Month, Women’s Health Week, Men’s Health Week and Pride Month

For more fertility-related content like this, visit the Fertility Help Hub website which releases a weekly newsletter with a surplus of fertility advice articles. To connect with our fertility community, download the Fertility Squad App and speak directly to mentors and other fertility warriors. 

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