As an employer would you be confident in dealing with requests from a member of staff undergoing IVF treatment?
There is no statutory right for time off for staff to undertake IVF treatment, often leaving employers confused on how to deal with requests for this appropriately. It is in an employer’s best interests to be prepared to deal with requests appropriately, both in terms of supporting the employee through what can be a challenging and emotional time, and ensuring they are treating employees fairly.
An employee undergoing IVF is likely to need time off for a number of medical appointments. As the employee is not yet pregnant, they do not attract the same legal protections as a pregnant employee. You should therefore consult your policy to ensure you deal with requests fairly and reasonably.
If your policy allows reasonable paid time off for medical appointments this should be granted, ensuring that employees undergoing IVF are treated no less favourably. If medical appointments are usually unpaid, you should be able to demonstrate this is across the board irrespective of the nature of the request and be prepared to look at other alternatives. Consider if requests can therefore be managed through more flexible working arrangements or a combination paid/ unpaid leave and annual leave.
An employee who has successfully undergone IVF treatment is considered pregnant from the date of implantation and you should then follow your usual maternity policy and procedures ensuring the member of staff received no less favourable treatment, in line with the Equality Act 2010. Contact your HR provider if you are in any doubt.
Five Top Tips!
- Treat requests for time off for treatment and support in the workplace compassionately and fairly, often employees are keen to be at work, do not want to be perceived negatively and have anxieties about raising the issue.
- Maintain an open dialogue and offer an ‘open door’ policy. The physical and emotional effects of the hormone treatment involved with IVF mean an employee’s health and well-being, energy levels and emotional resilience are likely to fluctuate. Open and honest lines of communication will make being at work more manageable and easier for them to attend work if adjustments and an understanding ear can be made available for this period.
- Consider your policy and procedures for dealing with time off for medical appointments and ensure these are applied fairly.
- Following successful IVF you should follow your maternity policy and procedures, including provisions for time off for ante-natal appointments and a pregnancy risk assessment.
- Consider how to support employees where a round of IVF has been unsuccessful – does your workplace offer Occupational Health, counselling and well-being support? Can these be made available?
If you need any help with managing leave, managing absence or updating policies and contracts please get in touch with one of the team. Our sister company FusionHR are education HR specialists and currently deliver HR for over 100 schools across the UK. You can also find further information on this subject on the ACAS website.