Employment Law

5 reasons why fertility and reproduction policies will improve your business

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5 reasons why fertility and reproduction policies will improve your business

Fertility and reproductive treatments are on the increase in the UK, with around 54,000 patients going through IVF and donor insemination procedures in 2018.[1] The emotional and financial impact on individuals undergoing this, whether as a patient or a partner, is huge. However, many businesses still don’t have specific policies and procedures in place to support employees that are going through these processes.
Having fertility and reproduction policies in place can be very beneficial for a business. Here are five reasons why:

Employee productivity and attendance

Having a policy that employees understand and makes them feel supported can have a significant impact on their productivity and attendance. If an employee feels supported, both in terms of their wellbeing and financially, they are much more likely to attend work, and be more present and productive when they are in work. Feeling unsupported while going through fertility treatment could lead to stress related illness, which can in turn lead to sickness absence and/or symptoms which can affect their work, such as a lack of focus, feeling indecisive and feeling irritable.

Improved staff retention levels

Retaining your valued employees means investing in them. Research by Fertility Network UK shows that 19% of employees facing infertility either reduced their hours or left employment completely. ACAS estimates that the average cost of replacing just one employee costs a business around £30,000. Having a fertility and reproduction policy in place- and ensuring managers have an understanding of the related issues and a willingness to be flexible where possible- could help avoid the financial and operational issues that can arise when a key member of staff leaves your business.

Supports your diversity and inclusivity agenda

Some individuals and couples going through fertility treatment may identify as part of   the LGBTQ community. Providing support with fertility treatment procedures can help businesses attract and retain talent without exclusion, which will facilitate growth and evolution as your business attracts employees with key skills and differing perspectives.

Improves brand reputation

Demonstrating you are a family-friendly employer can be great marketing in today’s society, where both work/life balance and wellbeing support are seen as vitally important attributes of a brand or business. As well as helping to attract a wider pool of potential employees, demonstrating your credentials as a caring and supportive business can help drive commercial success.

Helps protect against claims

Although there is currently no specific statutory right to time off or support for fertility treatment, there are potential discrimination claims which could arise from this, on the grounds of pregnancy/discrimination, sex, or even disability if the reason for infertility is a long-term health condition. Having a clear policy that managers can refer to can help avoid potential pitfalls that can lead to these types of claims.
The content of a fertility and reproduction policy is, of course, something that businesses would need to consider, and different businesses will be able to provide different levels of support. However, for the reasons set out above, it is worth taking time to think about the policies that you would like to have in place to help support both your employees and your business.

Author: Anna Nelson, Employment Law Advisor at Howarths
For more information or support with creating fertility and reproduction policies for your business, please contact a member of our Employment Law Team on 01274 864 999.

[1] https://www.hfea.gov.uk/about-us/publications/research-and-data/fertility-treatment-2018-trends-and-figures/

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