According to a recent news report by ‘Pregnant Then Screwed,’ only 42% of women going through fertility treatment decided to tell their employer. One in four of those women then experienced unfair treatment at work, as a result.  

In ‘The 2023 Workplace Infertility Stigma Survey’ conducted by Fertility Family, it states that more men than women would rather call in sick than tell their employer they’re going to a fertility appointment’ and that 44% of these men were in the 45-54 age bracket, possibly due to being a position of authority.

With more people going through fertility treatment, it seems difficult to believe that only 16% of companies have a supportive fertility policy.

Here at the IVF Network, we provide key information, so that you can have an informed conversation with your employer.

Where does the law stand on allowing time off for fertility treatment?

Currently, UK law doesn’t give employees statutory rights to attend fertility related appointments. If the current Bill is accepted by Parliament, this may change, but for now, the decision is in the hands of each individual employer. As some employers are more knowledgeable and sympathetic towards fertility treatment than others, it can feel like a lottery.


Are employers required to have a fertility policy in place?

Employers are expected to treat their employees fairly, without discrimination, but a fertility policy is not a legal requirement.


What are the benefits for employers and employees of having a fertility policy in place?

·     It ensures consistency and equality for everyone going through fertility treatment. It’s there in black and white for employers and employees, meaning that discrimination, misinterpretation or confusion, are less likely to occur.

·     A fair policy will ensure that reasonable adjustments can be made to workload and working conditions, flexible working hours can be introduced to accommodate appointments and reasonable time off for IVF won’t result in a disciplinary for exceeding the number of sick days allowed.

·     Employees will be aware from the beginning, whether time off for fertility treatment will be with full pay, part pay, no pay, or taken as time in lieu.

·     Having a fertility policy in place is great for recruitment and retention, as it shows that the employer is supportive of their employees and committed to equal opportunities.

·     It can encourage a culture of openness, honesty and respect in the company, which can lead to a happier workplace and better productivity.

·     Employees are more likely to be open about their appointments and time off, taking the appointment time, rather than a full day off sick.

An employee and a manager discussing fertility treatment

What are the benefits for me of telling my employer that I am going for fertility treatment?

·     Being honest and open can help to reduce stress levels, which in turn can increase your chances of a successful treatment

·     You are less likely to face disciplinary action for taking time off sick, or for not being as productive as usual

·     You can request that reasonable adjustments be made to your workload and/or working conditions


Making the decision – should I tell my employer or not?

After the embryo transfer, you will automatically have the same legal rights as anyone who is pregnant. Until that point, you will not have any additional rights and your employer may treat any absence according to their sickness policy.

It is your decision whether or not to tell your employer about your fertility treatment and it’s important that you take into consideration your current relationship with your employer, how sensitive the company has been towards others in the past and your own personal circumstances, as well as the general benefits and drawbacks of telling any employer.

If I decide to tell my employer, how do I instigate the conversation?  

First, check if your employer has got a fertility policy in place. If they have, then that will make instigating the conversation much easier. Make sure that you are familiar with the policy, before speaking to your employer.

If there is no policy in place and you don’t feel comfortable talking directly to your employer, you could seek advice from your union representative first, if you have one. They may be aware of previous case histories and be able to advise you on the best way to proceed.

Think about the current working relationship that you have with your line manager and other senior staff. Consider who might be the best person to approach about this.


At the IVF Network, we understand the importance of equality, for everyone experiencing fertility issues and treatment. We keep up-to-date with medical developments and social changes, the new laws and the support available. To help you to make informed choices, we provide a wide range of information, through our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blogposts.

We believe that education is the key to supporting both employees and employers. To increase awareness in the corporate world, we work with companies, to help them to create or improve their fertility policies. We also support them with implementation, offering workshops for line managers and employees, to increase their understanding of the impact of fertility treatment within our diverse community. Together, we can make a difference.


‘One in four women undergoing fertility treatment experience unfair treatment at work’

‘The 2023 Workplace Infertility Stigma Survey: do UK workplaces offer sufficient support for employees on their fertility journeys?

The 2023 Workplace Infertility Stigma Survey: do UK workplaces offer sufficient support for employees on their fertility journeys?