Although people have begun to discuss fertility issues more openly in recent years, it continues to be a topic that is not discussed widely in both society and in the workplace. According to the CIPD, relatively few organisations have policies or guidance in place to support people having treatment.
The CIPD have therefore recently published a new guide to offering workplace support for individuals experiencing fertility challenges, investigations and treatment. The aim of the guide is to raise awareness of the prevalence and impact of fertility challenges, investigations and treatments; highlight the need for effective workplace support and what that might look like and to also inspire employers to create an environment where individuals feel able to access support if they want to.
Taking into consideration the principles of good practice, the CIPD’s guide suggests that employers should:
- Break down the taboo – The CIPD suggests that employers can play an important role in breaking down these taboos as employees that work in supportive environments are more likely to feel able to discuss a challenging life event or to ask for help when needed.
- Communicate a compassionate approach – Employers should ensure that they demonstrate a compassionate and inclusive attitude towards fertility issues. The CIPD recommends that employers also adopt a proactive approach by, for example, holding employee events.
- Raise awareness and normalise the conversation – For employees that experience fertility issues, it can be a lonely and difficult process. Therefore, the CIPD suggests that employers ensure that information and education should be included as part of any training to ensure that managers and colleagues improve their understanding and awareness of fertility issues.
- Build supportive workplace cultures for mental health.
- Remember the impact on partners.
- Ensure that policies and practices are inclusive – The CIPD’s guidance states that sometime a workplace can mirror society in terms of perceptions and unconscious bias around what a family is. Employers should therefore ensure that its policies are inclusive by countering stereotypes about people who experience fertility issues. For example, it could be men as well as women, single people, same-sex couples and surrogates. Sensitivity should also be shown any to cultural or diversity considerations as individuals from some cultures might feel less comfortable speaking about fertility issues.
- Take an individual approach.
- Manage sensitive situations well – Employers should ensure that sensitivity is shown around certain days which might be upsetting for some employees, such as Mother’s and Father’s Day. An employer might have some employees that have contrasting personal situations and the employer should therefore ensure that it supports its employees experiencing a difficult time.
- Know what to say.
- Build an ongoing strategy.
The CIPD’s guidance can be found here: Fertility challenges, investigations and treatment: Guide to offering workplace support | CIPD
If you are an employer and require assistance, please contact the Employment Team at Morgan LaRoche.