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A fifth of workers undergoing fertility treatment quit jobs

3.5 million people in the UK are affected by infertility.

A fifth of employees undergoing fertility treatment have quit their job due to the way they were treated at work, according to a new report from Totaljobs and the Fawcett Society.

Over two fifths (43%) of workers who have gone through fertility treatment in the last five years found it difficult to juggle treatment alongside work commitments. 

Men undergoing fertility treatment find it easier to access support materials (69%) at work than their female colleagues (62%).

Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said the report shows how important supportive workplaces are to retain staff who are going through fertility treatment.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Supportive workplaces can make a huge difference in ensuring that women don’t need to choose between their job and their desire for children.”

Read more: Women undergoing fertility treatment experiencing unfair treatment at work

“Creating an environment which supports workers going through fertility treatment will result in happier staff, better retention, and better progression of talented women, all of which ultimately leads to an improved gender pay gap and more flourishing staff.”

The report found 40% of workplaces have specific fertility related policies. However, four in five women (80%) said it is important for workplaces to facilitate open and safe conversations around fertility.

Fertility policies are a key way to support women in the workplace, said Lauren Fabianski, head of campaign and communications at motherhood campaign Pregnant Then Screwed.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “If you don't have a policy in place to protect women when they are at their most vulnerable then you are not properly supporting women at all. 

“Companies need to put processes in place to protect women, and then they need to live up to this by training management to support women in the workplace. 

“Women are not going to be open and honest about their fertility needs if it could cost them their livelihood. It's as simple as that."

Read more: Fertility support should be a statutory right, say HRs

Over two thirds (77%) of HR leaders have encountered challenges to implement fertility policies across the business.

Olchawski said it is critical that the C-suite understands the benefits of fertility support in order to make progress.

She said: "HR can play a central role in ensuring the C-suite understands fertility support by facilitating training for managers; not only on policy details, but on the nature of infertility and the toll it can take on staff. 

“It’s critical that leaders understand the impact, and are empowered to have supportive, two-way conversations with team members with staff – as well as be aware of the reasons why an employee may not want to disclose."

Career and fertility coach Jennifer Elworthy said there is also a clear business case for fertility support.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “By offering support, companies can retain experienced and dedicated individuals, reducing turnover and associated costs.

“It’s also worth making it clear that an inclusive and supportive workplace is attractive to new talent. In an era where company culture is a significant consideration for potential employees, demonstrating a commitment to employee well-being can enhance the organisation's appeal to future generations.”

The researchers surveyed 2,000 people in the UK who have undergone fertility treatment in the past five years.