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1 in 5 UK employees concerned about missed career opportunities due to fertility struggles, new study shows

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As 75% of UK employees believe the workplace lacks an open environment to discuss infertility

According to the 2023 Workplace Infertility Stigma Survey by Fertility Family, there are widespread concerns that fertility struggles are hindering career aspirations, yet only 16% of companies have supportive policies for employees facing fertility issues. The survey gathered insights from 248 UK employees who had experienced difficulties in the workplace due to their fertility journey. The findings showed that just 1 in 4 respondents felt their company understood and supported them, while 1 in 5 feared their fertility struggles could negatively impact future opportunities.

The survey also revealed that only 1 in 4 people received compassionate leave or paid time off for fertility appointments. This news follows the release of a new Fertility Treatment Employment Rights Bill, which proposes a statutory right for employees to take time off work to attend fertility clinic appointments. The World Health Organization’s report found that 1 in 6 people worldwide are affected by infertility.

To better support employees facing fertility struggles, the survey found that 77% of employees want employers to offer flexible working arrangements to attend fertility-related appointments. Over half of the respondents believe that paid compassionate leave should be provided, and 41% agreed that financial support and fertility counselling should be offered to those undergoing fertility treatment. Additionally, more than a third of employees wanted line managers to receive training on fertility issues and how to approach such conversations with colleagues.

Kate Palmer, Director of HR Advice and Consultancy at Peninsula, advised employers to create a culture of open communication and support for employees facing fertility struggles. This includes introducing mental health first aiders or appointing fertility or women’s health champions who can be a point of contact for those who prefer not to discuss their struggles with a line manager or HR team member. Employers should also ensure all senior staff members are trained on how to discuss health conditions effectively and empathetically to avoid unintentionally causing harm. A fertility policy that incorporates support measures for individuals experiencing fertility issues can help affected employees feel more confident and comfortable at work.

Read the full study here.

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