Fertility is a deeply personal and often sensitive subject that affects many people in the UK. With more women delaying pregnancy until later in life (like myself), fertility and reproductive health are becoming increasingly important topics in the workplace.
Unfortunately, many employers in the UK are still not doing enough to support employees who are trying to conceive or who are going through fertility treatment. I was one of the lucky ones and my company has always been extremely supportive, but for many this can lead to stress, anxiety, and even discrimination for those who are struggling to start or expand their families.
I feel very passionate about this subject and how it is now time for serious change, to avoid future generations having to endure treatment cycles such as IVF to achieve their dreams of having a family.
One of the biggest challenges facing those trying to conceive is the lack of understanding and support from employers. Many people feel that they have to keep their fertility struggles a secret, which can add to their stress levels and negatively impact their mental health.
Employers can help to address this issue by creating a culture of openness and support around fertility. Introducing Mental Health schemes so employees have someone they can turn to and speak to in helping them feel supported through the process whilst trying to work. Providing information and resources on fertility and reproductive health, perhaps offering flexible working arrangements for employees who are undergoing fertility treatment or who have children.
For example, some employers offer fertility benefits, such as paid time off for fertility appointments or access to fertility treatments. Others may provide access to counselling services or support groups for employees struggling with fertility issues.
It's also important for employers to be aware of the legal implications of fertility in the workplace. Under UK law, it is illegal to discriminate against employees based on their fertility or pregnancy status. This means that employers need to be careful not to make assumptions about an employee's family planning decisions, and to ensure that they are providing equal opportunities to all employees, regardless of their fertility status.
Overall, there is a growing need for greater awareness and support around fertility in the workplace in the UK. By creating a more open and supportive culture, employers can help to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with fertility issues and ensure that all employees have equal opportunities to start and expand their families.
Equally if not more so, there is a huge demand for change on how families who experience the loss of a baby must be supported better in the workplace. There is a call here on our UK Government and organisations on providing better ways to support employees through baby loss. Simple changes such as training managers, having clear policies, being flexible, providing ways for employees to talk about their loss are all small steps in making change a reality and avoiding additional strain and stress on whole families.
The great work of charities such as Tommys, and celebrities as well as MP’s who have experienced baby loss at various stages are all beginning to help drive a tide of change. So how do we “normalise” the topic?
The loss of a baby is a devastating experience for anyone, and it can be especially challenging for those who are also trying to navigate the demands of work. Sadly, baby loss in the workplace is a reality for many people in the UK with 1 in 4 pregnancies resulting in loss, but the issue is still not widely talked about or well understood.
The loss of a baby can be a deeply personal and traumatic experience, and everyone grieves differently. This means that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to supporting employees who have experienced baby loss. However, there are a number of ways in which employers can create a supportive and compassionate environment for their employees during this difficult time.
One of the most important things that employers can do is to create an open and understanding culture around baby loss. This could involve providing information and resources to employees on how to access support, as well as offering training to managers on how to support employees who are going through a difficult time.
Employers can also consider offering compassionate leave for employees who have experienced baby loss. This could involve paid time off for bereavement, as well as additional time off for medical appointments or counselling sessions. The current UK standard is just not good enough.
Another important consideration is the need for flexibility in the workplace. Employees who have experienced baby loss may need to take time off or work reduced hours, and it's important for employers to be understanding and accommodating of these needs. This could involve offering flexible working arrangements, such as the option to work from home or to adjust working hours.
It's also important for employers to be aware of the legal implications of baby loss in the workplace. Under UK law, employees who have experienced baby loss are entitled to compassionate leave and protection from discrimination. This means that employers need to be careful not to make assumptions about an employee's ability to work or to discriminate against them based on their bereavement status.
Overall, baby loss in the workplace is a complex and sensitive issue, and it requires a compassionate and understanding approach from employers. By creating a supportive and flexible environment, employers can help to ensure that their employees have the space and resources they need to grieve and heal, often as well as the time to do those things without the pressures of working.