Fertility Treatment = Unfair Treatment?

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The number of people going through fertility treatments is increasing for various reasons, and seemingly, so is the discrimination they are facing in the workplace.  

The charity ‘Pregnant Then Screwed’ has received “an increasing number of calls” to their helpline from women undergoing these treatments. This is no surprise as the survey they conducted found that out of the 43% of women who told their bosses that they were going through fertility treatment, 24% did not receive any support and 24% said they experienced unfair treatment as a result. Similarly, out of 29% of women who told their employer of their unfortunate pregnancy loss, 22% reported unfair treatment, with 6% of those being partners. 

The report also showed that 36% of women felt that their careers were damaged as a result of fertility treatment and that 58% were concerned that it would impact their career prospects. Women feel like they are being punished by employers for trying to become a parent, despite the stress they are already experiencing with IVF. Being transparent about fertility is detrimental to women’s careers. 

What does it mean for you, the employer? 

Change is needed, so what should you do about this? 

You must consider the duty of care that the organisation owes its staff, the general well-being of staff, and to handle situations with sensitivity.  

To create a workplace where women can be transparent about their fertility treatment and to avoid the risk of discrimination, an employer can: 

  • Provide workplace support to women experiencing such health issues to improve the inclusiveness of your workplace culture and to enable the right conversations
  • Educate and train your employees about these matters to raise awareness, understanding, and de-stigmatise women’s health issues; 
  • Communicate with those going through fertility treatment with sensitivity and understanding
  • Implement a conduct policy on discrimination to set the bar for acceptable and unacceptable behaviours 
  • Update your employees’ contract clauses to allow time off (paid or unpaid) for fertility treatment, allowing them some flexibility to manage the demands
  • Provide guidance on where to find support outside of the organisation. 

Capital Law Employment Investigations Unit  

If you are faced with a fertility treatment employment issue or grievance, our team of experienced independent and impartial employment investigators can help. Please call us for an initial chat on 0808 196 3151 or learn more here. 


One in four women undergoing fertility treatment are unfairly treated at work – Lexology