A new campaign to improve the rights of employees undergoing fertility treatment has this week been launched in Parliament as part of National Fertility Awareness Week. Here’s all you need to know on how you and your firm can get involved.
Fertility treatment affects millions of people from all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. It is emotionally draining, costly, risky, and a long process. However, employees’ rights when undergoing such treatment are thin on the ground.
More than a third of people undergoing fertility treatment have considered quitting their job. Many feel they cannot tell their employer for fear of being overlooked for a promotion or being made redundant, leading to a “shockingly high” number simply taking sick leave or hiding it from their employers.
In an effort to change this, Nickie Aiken MP has launched the Fertility Workplace Pledge to give companies a clear, defined route to becoming a #FertilityAmbassador and better protecting their employees.
Indeed, Aiken – in conjunction with prominent family lawyer and champion of employees’ rights in relation to fertility Natalie Sutherland of Burgess Mee – is working on a private members bill, the Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill making it mandatory for employers to give employees paid time off for attending fertility treatment appointments, just as it is with antenatal appointments, which is due for its second reading on 25th November.
Yet, legislative change remains years away, and the Fertility Workplace Pledge will help bridge the gap. This week is National Fertility Awareness Week, so now is the time to get involved by signing up to four simple and voluntary commitments.
Four pledges to become a #FertilityAmbassador
- Accessible information: Having an accessible workplace fertility policy to create an open culture free from stigma; to make sure employees feel comfortable in the workplace and prevent the best talent from leaving.
- Awareness in the workplace: Establishing the role of Fertility Ambassador to open conversations internally and make people aware of available support.
- Staff training: Making sure line managers understand the realities of treatment for employees including the physical, mental, and financial impact — and how they can support someone going through it.
- Flexible working: Giving employees the right to request flexible working, including reasonable working adjustments, so they can attend appointments.
If you’re happy to pledge, simply email Nickie at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will add your firm to the list of champions and send you a PR pack and social media material.
On the campaign, Nickie Aiken MP said:
“I believe business leaders who are serious about inclusion must be willing to discuss infertility openly and create policies to support employees in this phase of their family-planning journeys.
Join us with the steps [above], and pledge to be a #FertilityAmbassador!”
Antonia Mee, Partner at Burgess Mee Family Law, said:
“We are delighted to support Nickie Aiken MP’s Bill and to support the Fertility Workplace Pledge. As well as being a partner at Burgess Mee Family Law, Natalie Sutherland is our firm’s Fertility Officer. We are proud to already have our own #FertilityAmbassador, and we urge other companies to sign up to the pledge and put in place this vital role in order to support employees undergoing fertility challenges.”