Your fertility and your employer

I regularly hear concerns from my patients about taking time off from work for fertility treatments and what support (or lack of) they might expect from their employer.

Unfortunately, in the UK fertility treatments and your employer, is rather a grey area. Time off for pre-conception care is not a statutory right, so very few employers have polices that relate to this. However, some larger corporate employers are beginning to change this so it is worth discovering if this is the case for your employer.

It is common for couples to be worried about telling their employer they are having fertility treatment. This may be because they are concerned that their employer will not take their infertility seriously, that confidentiality may be breached or by divulging that trying to conceive will affect their career prospects.

However, if you are embarking on fertility treatments you will need to attend your fertility clinic on numerous occasions for tests and treatment. This can be a long and drawn out process and from talking to my patients who have or have not discussed their treatment with their employer, the ones that do confide in their employer are often the ones that find the whole process less stressful and easier.

Some employers are able to offer a degree of flexibility. Whilst there is no automatic legal right for time off for fertility treatments, time off for medical appointments related to fertility should be treated in the same way as any other medical appointment and therefore it is important to become familiar with your employer’s policy on this. Having a confidential discussion with your Human Resources department about fertility treatments and your employer is a good first step.

An understanding employer can make all the difference to you during your fertility treatment and therefore it is important to keep your employer informed about your treatment as you progress. This doesn’t, however, mean that they have the right to ask intrusive or inappropriate questions. However, the more transparent and flexible you can both be the more likely it is to result in a positive outcome.