1 in 4 women undergoing fertility treatment is treated unfairly in the workplace

  • Post last modified:March 21, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

A recent report released by Pregnant Then Screwed has uncovered distressing statistics revealing workplace discrimination linked to women’s reproductive health and fertility treatment. 

Their findings, published in collaboration with Women In Data®, reveal that 22% of women who disclosed that they experienced a miscarriage to their employers faced unfair treatment. In comparison, 6% of partners experienced similar discrimination. Although these numbers are shocking, we can rest assured that infertility awareness is rising, which will likely spell better legislation for employees undergoing fertility treatment in future. 

For now, it is often up to individuals to advocate for themselves and their situations. Fortunately, some fertility clinics can provide crucial support to help those who are at risk of discrimination.

24% of Women Having Fertility Treatment Are Offered No Workplace Support

The findings from this report highlight the unfortunate fact that transparency about fertility struggles often comes at a cost to women’s careers. According to the report, only 42% of women undergoing fertility treatment inform their bosses and are open about it. Of those, 24% received no support, and an equal percentage faced unfair treatment. This is even more significant when you consider the emotional and physical challenges that come hand in hand with fertility treatment and IVF, and that women have to deal with – sometimes on a daily basis – when undergoing treatment.

If you feel like you’re being treated unfairly as a result of fertility treatment, miscarriage or pregnancy, you should raise your concerns with your workplace HR team as soon as possible. They will be able to navigate the situation and hopefully work with you to come to a positive resolution. A healthy and happy working environment is something everyone should have. 

Why Choosing A Fertility Clinic With Great Support Is Vital 

When it comes to navigating the complexities of infertility, choosing the right fertility clinic in London is paramount. When workplace discrimination is so rife, it means that obtaining help elsewhere is equally, if not more, important. Getting assistance and encouragement from not only your family and friends, but also your fertility clinic, can be key to supporting you throughout the process. Here are some factors to take into account when choosing your clinic.

1. Personalised approach

No two people or couples will need the exact same treatment and so it’s important to find a clinic where patients are not just numbers; they’re individuals with unique needs and concerns. Ensure your clinic takes a personalised approach to care for the best chance of success. This will also ensure that you feel valued and understood from the moment you walk through the door.

2. Support services

Fertility treatment is about more than just the treatment itself. It’s about the care and support received: the time spent with doctors, nurses, and the supporting team. Unlike some clinics that focus solely on medical treatment, The Fertility & Gynaecology Academy is a fertility clinic in London that offers a wide range of supportive services, which can complement your fertility treatment. These include counselling, fertility coaching, nutritional guidance, and holistic therapies such as acupuncture and reflexology. By addressing the holistic needs of patients, the clinic ensures a more well-rounded and effective approach to fertility care, allowing the patients to feel confident throughout their fertility journey.

3. Information = empowerment

It’s important that you feel empowered to take an active role in your treatment plan and that your fertility clinic and its staff are happy to answer any questions that you may have and address all of your concerns, no matter how challenging they may be. You should be provided with ample resources and information to make informed decisions about your care, allowing you to feel in control and confident throughout the process, from start to finish.

4. Collaborative care

Although fertility doctors are your main touchpoint at a fertility clinic, it is the whole team of dedicated professionals, from nurses to embryologists, that come together to complete your experience. A clinic’s team works closely with patients, fostering a collaborative approach to care. This partnership between patient and provider helps to ensure that treatment plans are tailored to your individual needs and preferences. You will know you’re in safe hands, and that a skilled team is going to take care of you.

5. Emotional support

Emotional support is just as important as physical support when it comes to fertility treatment, whether that’s surrogacy, IUI, or IVF. It’s vital that your chosen clinic creates a supportive and nurturing environment where patients feel safe and at ease – after all, you will potentially be spending many hours there and with the team. You’ll soon get a feel for what a clinic is like once you’ve visited in person, and you’ll be able to see if the clinic’s team offers emotional support, encouragement, and empathy to help you with the ups and downs of infertility.

Women’s Rights In The UK Regarding Fertility Treatments

If you want to know more about the legal aspect of your journey, this paragraph will answer your concerns.

If you conceive through IVF, your entitlement to pregnancy and maternity rights remains the same as with natural pregnancies.

Legally, there isn’t a specific provision for time off work related to IVF treatment or associated health issues. However, your employer should handle your IVF appointments and any resulting sickness in line with standard medical appointments or illnesses, as well as with their company regulations. This is why you should review your employment contract in advance.

Discussing any necessary time off during your IVF treatment with your employer is advisable, and being open and upfront with your doctor is crucial as well. 

Your employer might agree to modified working arrangements, including flexible working hours or using paid or unpaid leave, similar to other medical situations.

Once you undergo embryo transfer, marking the final phase of the IVF process and potentially leading to pregnancy, you gain pregnancy protection rights. While it’s not mandatory to disclose this to your employer at this stage, doing so could be beneficial as they might provide additional support early in the process.

If your employer is aware of your potential pregnancy, you’re safeguarded against unfair dismissal and discriminatory treatment linked to your potential pregnancy status.

Also, and quite importantly, even if the IVF procedure doesn’t result in a successful pregnancy, you’re still legally shielded from pregnancy-related discrimination for a period of two weeks following the confirmation of an unsuccessful embryo transfer.

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