When you are going through IVF, it’s an emotionally and physically challenging time.  

It also involves medication, injections and frequent appointments, most of which can’t be timetabled well in advance, so having an employer who can facilitate that flexibility, without putting further pressure on you, is really valuable.
Being aware of your rights as an employee is really helpful. For example, although while going through IVF, you won’t have the same rights as someone who is pregnant, if you are discriminated against because you are going through the IVF process, this could be classed as sexual discrimination.

Is infertility classed as a disability?

No, infertility is not classed as a disability, so you will not qualify for the same rights or considerations as those with a disability.

What are my rights as an employee, with regard to IVF?
In the UK, there is actually no legal right for time off work for IVF treatment, or for any related sickness. However, in terms of employee rights, your IVF appointments should be treated in the same way as any other medical appointment or sickness. If you become pregnant as a result of IVF treatment, you will have the same pregnancy and maternity rights as non-IVF related pregnancies.
It’s a good idea to tell your employer early on, that you are undergoing IVF treatment, as it avoids the risk of frequent absences for appointments or illness looking suspicious.

Do I have to take annual leave to attend my IVF appointments?

This would depend very much on the policies of your employer. Taking annual leave is one option, but your employer may also consider allowing you to take special leave, which is likely to be unpaid, but would not affect your holiday entitlement.

When will I be protected from discrimination due to pregnancy?

Pregnancy in the case of IVF, counts from when a woman’s eggs are harvested and fertilised, just before the embryo is transferred to her uterus. Once you have informed your employer in writing that you are pregnant, you enter a time period where you are protected from discrimination due to pregnancy. If there are any potential risks in the workplace or within the job you do, your employer must conduct a health and safety risk assessment, to protect you and your baby. The protected period counts until the end of maternity leave, or, if a miscarriage occurs or the embryo fails to transfer properly, until two weeks after the end of the pregnancy.

What measures could companies put in place to support employees going through IVF?

Employers who wish to support their employees more fully, could:

– Educate their managers and HR employees in what IVF entails, possible symptoms and side-effects and how to make reasonable adjustments to support employees going through the process
– Introduce time off for male and female employees to attend appointments, take sick leave and have reasonable adjustments made, in line with the protected period that comes into place once pregnancy occurs.
– Show compassion and consideration to employees who are struggling, as a result of the emotional and physical impact of going through the IVF process
– Accept that there is a need for reasonable flexibility in working hours, while undergoing IVF treatment

Here at the IVF Network, we understand the complexities that going through IVF presents. It’s a demanding time, physically, mentally and emotionally and through our dedicated channel of experts in fertility, our website and our blog posts, we aim to provide as much information and support as possible, to help to make your personal fertility journey easier.

For more detailed information about your rights as an employee, you can go to: Employment Status