Two in five (40%) of employers do not have a formal fertility policy and have no plans to introduce one, new research has revealed.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) further discovered that just 22% of organisations provide employees with paid leave to attend fertility appointments and cope with the demands of treatment, despite two in five (40%) of workers experiencing fertility issues saying this would be helpful.
The research highlighted that one in five affected by these issues has considered leaving work, while nearly half (47%) didn’t tell their manager or HR about their investigations or treatment. More than a quarter (26%) of employees were worried about the potential impact on their career and 19% were concerned their employer wouldn’t offer support or be understanding.
In light of the findings, the professional body for HR and people development believes there is an “opportunity for employers to make a big difference to how people cope at a difficult time”. It is calling for more workplace support for those experiencing fertility issues, suggesting employers consider offering flexible working arrangements, paid leave for appointments and training to enable managers to support affected staff, as well as creating more understanding working environments.
Rachel Suff, senior policy adviser at the CIPD, said: “Experiencing fertility challenges, investigations or treatment can have a significant impact on people’s physical and mental health, making it an important workplace wellbeing issue.
“Fertility challenges can feel like a very sensitive and difficult topic to discuss but the onus is on the organisation to create a compassionate and supportive culture so that people can share their experience and seek support if they want to. By providing a framework of support, employers will also benefit in terms of enhanced loyalty and staff retention.”
In terms of positive action, nearly half (49%) of organisations surveyed provide some level of support for staff undergoing fertility treatment, with flexible working being the most common option cited by 27% of those offering assistance.
Suff added: “Fertility issues don’t just affect women and organisations need to make sure their policies are inclusive of everyone’s situation including men, same sex couples, and people pursuing parenthood alone.”