Work and Employer Issues

I am giving a talk at The Fertility Show ( fertilityshow.co.uk ) this year on employment related issues and fertility treatment, including time off for treatment and how to tell your employer (if at all) that you are having treatment.

If you have any information on policies which employers have, or can share your experiences (anonymously is fine) I would appreciate you sharing them with me at susanseenan@infertilitynetworkuk.com as the more details we have, the more information we can share with others.

It all helps to build up a picture of what employers are doing to help those experiencing infertility (or not as the case may be)

Many thanks

Susan

Susan Seenan

Deputy Chief Executive

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7 Replies

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  • I've started with a new employer recently, they will give me up to 5 days special leave for fertility treatment. So I've asked for that for my next round, and offered up some other leave, and have negotiated working from home during treatment/flexible working (not during rush hour).

    I had a miscarriage following my second round of treatment when I was very new in, so my boss kind of new what was going on, so was very agreeable to the above, as we have all decided there are some things more important to working.

  • I was with the same employer all through my 4 cycles, and they were absolutely wonderful! Officially, we have an IVF policy which lets us take off 5 days paid leave for treatment (this is a one off, not per cycle), and anything above and beyond that is to be taken as holiday or unpaid leave.

    However, as with many things, there is a lot of manager discretion available on this, and given the flexibility of my job and the ridiculous hours that I had worked over the years (often when I was throwing myself into my work to try and focus on something other than our infertility), I was always given the day of EC, next day and day of ET and test day off, was never made to take holiday or make up hours for blood tests, etc, and was able to work from home as much as I wanted to during the cycle if I just couldn't cope with coming into work.

    I had 3 different bosses over the course of our 4 cycles and I was incredibly lucky that once I explained our situation they were all amazingly supportive and understanding, but I do know that this can vary massively even within my company (we have over 30,000 employees so it's hardly surprising I suppose).

    One other thing that's not specific to IVF, but was helpful to us through our treatment when we were getting our heads around the idea of using donor eggs and sperm, was that I was also able to access counselling that was paid for through work (this would have been available for any reason, it was just that we chose to access it for infertility related reasons).

    Let me know if you want any more information at all...

  • Thank you for these comments which are really helpful. The more information we have the better and ultimately I hope that we can eventually change the way employers view IVF and time off for treatment. If anyone else has information or comments they can share on this subject please do get in touch with me,

    best wishes

    Susan

  • I have had ups and downs with my employer. They will always allow me the time off which I request. They let me have the days of EC and ET as sick leave and the days in between on the basis I am recovering from an operation. This time round I have asked for unpaid leave to start as soon as I start stimming until the result of the 2ww. The reason for this is that I find my job very difficult to deal with emotionally when I am going through treatment and my DH worries I get too stressed and upset. Although they have been great at allowing me the time off, they endlessly quiz me about when i will know exact dates and clearly have a very poor understanding of the treatment ( they are both women, with children) and also cannot understand why I do not want other members of staff knowing why I take extended leave! This ends up getting me stressed as I worry I cannot give them the definite answers they need . I really do find the work/IVF treatment balance tough to deal with. I wonder whether a bit more knowledge of infertility treatment could assist employers in understanding how best to deal with an employee going through treatment.

  • Hi

    I have been very lucky with my employer so far, although still very early days!

    I work 3 days a week as a Training Manager where I'm employed to travel round the country training half of the month and working from home the other half - when we had our IVF cycle agreed, I had to have the very uncomfy conversation with my male boss, the MD of the UK business, and explain to him why we needed the IVF and how it would affect my job.

    Up until now, he's been brilliant - he has agreed, at my request, to allow me to work from home for the whole of my cycle - I am in the initial stages of down-regging at the moment and yesterday was the last day I will train, away from home, until December. He knows that some days I'm supposed to be working, I'll be travelling backwards and forwards for scans etc and is comfortable that I'll make the time up as and when I can but nothing formal. I have told him and HR that I will need some sick time after both egg collection and embryo transfer and as long as I keep everyone informed of whats going on, they're supporting me all the way - my training team are also covering all of the training work for a month.

    I'm a very, very lucky lady and now just hope that all of this support I'm getting will help me progress to a positve pregnancy test!

  • I was also very lucky with my employer and in the end I took a sabbatical of 18 months (and policy only allows 12 months) while I was doing treatment as I personally found it all very stressful to balance work and IVF plus also I was conscious that I got very stressed at work generally and wondered whether that affected things.

    What amazed me was when I had to give the reason for my wanting the sabbatical extended from 6 months that suddenly line managers came forward with their own experiences of having done IVF and battled with fertility challenges. And so I had their empathy and understanding. I was taken aback at how many couples even in my work place were battling with the issue but nobody of course ever talks about it - until you do!

    But smaller employers wont be able to be as flexible as large organisations - and that is a challenge. And if you had a line manager who hadnt been through it, I do question how kind they would be unless HR required them to accommodate you.

  • My GP gave me a note stating I was unfit for work for 2 weeks, from just before egg collection to after transfer. This way I had 2 weeks off and was paid according to the company sickness policy.

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