To mark Human Rights Day on the 10th of December, we thought it might be helpful to share some guidance on employment rights when you are going through IVF treatment…
Juggling the pressures work and IVF treatment can become both physically and emotionally draining, so it is important to research your options and know your rights.
First and foremost, it is important to know that if you become pregnant through IVF, you have exactly the same pregnancy and maternity rights as non-IVF parents. In fact, you will have these rights once you have completed the embryo transfer and may become pregnant.
During your IVF journey you or your partner may need to take time off work to go to appointments, especially at the start of your IVF treatment. You are not obligated to tell your employer at this stage; however it might be helpful in order to see what policies they have in place.
Your employer is not legally required to give you time off to have fertility treatment (time off for IVF treatment is treated in the same way as any other medical appointment); However The Equality And Human Rights Commission Code recommends that employers treat requests for time off for IVF treatment sympathetically and encourages employers to establish procedures for allowing time off for fertility treatment.
With around one in six couples in the UK struggling to conceive naturally, many companies have added a specific fertility section to their company policies. This will help employees to understand exactly where they stand when it comes to things like time off and sick pay during treatment.
Some companies may even allocate a certain number of days for ‘discretionary leave’ which can be taken at any time during an IVF cycle.
It is important to take care of yourself during your fertility treatment, as certain IVF medications can cause unpleasant side effects such as nausea and fatigue. This is why it can be helpful to share details of your treatment with your employer, as they may be able to offer more flexibility or help you to work more comfortably (although it is important to note that there is no legal obligation to do so).
Flexible hours or working from home can be requested by your partner too. Even though they may not be undergoing the actual treatment, they may wish to support you at appointments or at home. They should also discuss your personal situation with work to see if any arrangements can be made.
Finally, it is important to be aware that if your IVF treatment is unsuccessful, you are still protected against pregnancy discrimination for two weeks after confirmation.