In vitro fertilisation and other fertility treatments are an often-gruelling process, with a huge impact both physically and emotionally on both men and women. This experience is further compounded for women by discrimination in the workplace, according to a MP who is campaigning for new employee protection for women undergoing IVF.
The Conservative MP for Cities of London and Westminster Nickie Aiken wants to make it illegal for employers to side line or sack women who are trying to conceive through IVF and are having to take time off for fertility-related issues.
“Women are facing discrimination at work and even being forced out of their jobs because they haven’t got rights to take IVF treatment currently,” Aiken explains.
“It’s now come to the time that we’ve got to recognise IVF as a very, very important part of reproduction’ she says. “We’ve got an awful birth rate here in this country. We need to keep giving birth to children so that in 30 years’ time, they will be paying taxes, they will be our workers of the future.
“I would also like to see a legal requirement for employers to have a workplace fertility policy. I would like to see organisations introduce guidance on rights to time off work for treatment and miscarriage, flexible working, access to HR support and counselling on a confidential basis. This would help to improve workplace culture for workers looking to build a family through fertility treatment.”
Currently, legal safeguards against pregnancy-related discrimination only begin after implantation has taken place, so women often find themselves having to ‘hide’ the fact that they are undergoing IVF or try and arrange appointments outside of working hours, all of which will have an undeniable effect on stress levels.
Aiken will introduce a private member’s bill at the next parliamentary session to discuss IVF workplace discrimination.
The growth in fertility benefits
Although there is evidently a need to protect many women from IVF discrimination in the workplace, more and more companies are embracing the concept of extending fertility benefits to their employees.
Fertility benefits are proving a powerful way to attract and retain employees. In a survey carried out by Carrot Fertility, the leading global fertility benefits provider for employers, and The National Infertility Association, 88% of employees would even consider changing jobs for access to fertility benefits.
Aria Fertility is delighted to partner with Carrot Fertility to provide fertility care to their UK members.