Fertility issues in the workplace
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has created a comprehensive guide for employers and HR professionals to support employees experiencing fertility issues. The guide emphasises the importance of understanding and providing practical support to ensure a positive work environment for those affected by fertility issues.
Infertility is a complex matter and a sensitive issue for those affected. According to CIPD, infertility affects around one in seven couples in the UK. For those affected it can be a particularly challenging and isolating experience especially when having to focus on work commitments. Employers can therefore have a key role in providing support to employees during their experience and the CIPD’s guide provides some useful recommendations.
This summary outlines the key recommendations set out in the guide.
1. Develop a clear policy.
Creating a written policy outlining the employer’s approach to supporting employees with fertility issues. This should include guidelines and procedures for requesting time off for medical appointments, flexible working arrangements, and any financial assistance available for fertility treatments. Having a clear policy in place can help to ensure that employees receive the support they need, that the employer’s approach is consistent and fair and promote a more open and inclusive culture to feel free to discuss the topic.
2. Train and educate managers.
It is recommended that managers should receive training on fertility issues and their potential impacts on employees’ mental and physical well-being. This includes understanding the emotional impact of infertility on employees, the complexity of treatment options, and the importance of creating an inclusive work environment. The purpose of this is to further promote a culture of understanding and empathy from those who work closely with employees affected.
3. Encourage open communication.
Employees should feel comfortable discussing their fertility issues with their managers and HR personnel. Employers can create an open and supportive culture by encouraging regular check-ins and fostering a non-judgmental atmosphere. Being open and understanding of each employee’s needs can reduce any stress and anxiety cause by the situation and encourage a supportive workplace culture.
4. Offer emotional support.
Employers are encouraged to provide resources to help employees cope with the stress and emotional challenges of fertility issues. This could include access to counselling services, employee assistance programs, or internal/external support groups. This could assist with employees’ mental health and well-being.
5. Provide practical support.
Offering a range of practical support measures to help employees manage their fertility treatment and work commitments. This could include flexible working hours, options to work remotely, or additional time off for medical appointments and recovery.
6. Maintain confidentiality.
Employers should continually ensure that employees’ privacy is protected, and that any information shared about fertility issues is kept confidential. This includes adhering to data protection laws and fostering a culture of trust and respect.
7. Promote inclusivity.
Employers should promote a culture of inclusivity by recognising and appreciating the diverse family structures and personal experiences of their workforce. This includes providing employees with equal opportunities for career development and workplace support.
Whilst the contents of the CIPD’s guide is not mandatory, by implementing these recommendations, employers can create a supportive work environment that acknowledges the sensitive challenges faced by employees experiencing fertility issues. This approach can facilitate with improving employee well-being, increase productivity, foster a positive workplace culture and reinforce good working relationships in the workplace.
You can access the guide here https://www.cipd.org/en/knowledge/guides/fertility-challenges/.
How we can help
If you are interested in promoting a more positive and supportive culture on this topic in your organisation, we can help in a number of ways including creating a bespoke policy or looking at what other measures can be put in place to assist anyone facing fertility issues.
Alternatively, if you are currently facing a sensitive issue at work with an employee who is or may be affected by fertility issues and are unsure about how to handle the matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the team.
In episode 201 of the Employment Law & HR podcast Alison Colley interviewed Kate Davies, Independent Fertility Nurse Consultant, Corporate & Fertility Industry Consultancy & Podcast Host of the Fertility Podcast. You can find lots of helpful tips and information by having a listen here: https://realemploymentlawadvice.co.uk/podcast/should-you-introduce-a-fertility-policy/