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    Private GP Services & Occupational Healthcare in Edinburgh, UK.

    Supporting employees through their fertility treatment

    Supporting employees through their fertility treatment

    Posted on July 25th, 2022

    According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, almost 53,000 patients in the UK underwent IVF treatment in 2019. Research has shown one-in-six heterosexual couples are affected by infertility. Combine this with the fact that many women in same-sex relationships may opt for fertility treatment to conceive, as well as those choosing to become single parents via a donor, and it’s clear what a huge number of people the issue of fertility can affect. Yet despite this fact, UK workplaces are currently not required to have a fertility policy.

    That, however, may change. A Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill was recently presented to Parliament. Should it pass, it would give people the right to take time off work to attend fertility appointments, just as they are entitled to do so for antenatal appointments. Under the proposed legislation, employers would also be required to have a workplace fertility policy, covering issues such as time off work for treatment and miscarriage, flexible working options, and access to HR support and counselling.

    Whilst there may not be legislation currently in place, there are still things that employers can do to support employees through their fertility treatment. Here, the Occupational Healthcare experts at YourGP reveal what they are…

    • Encourage open conversations: Fertility is a deeply personal issue so be aware that your employee may not want to go into detail about their treatment. However, it is still important to create an open atmosphere that enables them to talk about what they are experiencing, if they wish to do so.
    • Create a private space: Fertility treatments can involve taking medications including hormone injections at certain times of the day. Ensure there is a private, quiet place for your employee to do this.
    • Be flexible: Your employee may need time off for appointments. They may have days when they feel exhausted or unable to concentrate as they wait for test results, for example. Be flexible in your response with regards to working hours and remote working, if possible.
    • Be sensitive: Be aware that your employee is going through a highly emotional process. Be sensitive to this and be aware of any potential triggers. Perhaps someone else in the office is pregnant or planning a baby shower, for example.
    • Avoid giving advice: Someone who is embarking on fertility treatment has no doubt tried everything in their bid to get pregnant. Offering up diet suggestions, exercise tips, and old wive’s tales is not helpful. Leave the medical advice to the experts!
    • Assure them it won’t affect their career: Many people undergoing fertility treatment may feel pressure to keep it under wraps for fear of being overlooked for promotion or made redundant. Assure them this won’t happen.
    • Protect their rights: At the moment, there is no legal right for time off work for fertility treatment. However, any sickness experienced during the treatment should be treated like any other sickness. Those undergoing IVF also have pregnancy rights once they have completed the embryo transfer. And all employees undergoing fertility treatment are protected by law against pregnancy discrimination for two weeks after finding out an embryo transfer has been unsuccessful.

    Find out more
    If you would like advice from YourGP’s team of Occupational Healthcare experts about creating a supportive environment for your employees going through fertility treatment, make an appointment by calling 0131 225 5656 or email occhealth@your.gp.

    I was surprised to meet a GP with such a ready smile and willingness to give me the time I needed. I felt we had a conversation as equals and that she actually heard what I said. A couple of blood tests, a physiotherapy referral and I am better than I have been in a very long time

    George – Newington – Marikie

    YourGP is regulated by Healthcare Improvement Scotland – the regulator for independent healthcare services across Scotland. Healthcare Improvement Scotland accepts complaints at any time. Contact them at:

    Independent Healthcare Team
    Gyle Square | 1 South Gyle Crescent | Edinburgh | EH12 9EB
    0131 623 4342 | hcis.clinicregulation@nhs.net