NHS staff given time off for fertility treatment as proposed IVF law goes before Parliament 


Thousands of NHS staff are given right to three days off for fertility treatment as proposed law to force employers to give women and their partners paid leave for IVF goes before Parliament

  • The law would see fertility courses treated the same as antenatal appointments  
  • Women and partners would be given time off under the Private Member’s Bill
  • The proposed new law is set to go before Parliament tomorrow

A proposed new law to force all employers to give women paid leave for IVF treatment will come before Parliament tomorrow.

It states that undergoing fertility courses would be treated in the same as antenatal appointments during pregnancy.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have recently given all their nearly 8,000 staff the right to three days off a year specifically for fertility treatment, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

And their partners are eligible for the same amount of time off, which does not have to be taken as full days.

A proposed law that will give employees paid time off for fertility treatments will go before parliament tomorrow. The move comes as Tory MP Nickie Aiken raised concerns that too many couples were going through gruelling IVF in secret. Claire Ingle, 45, (pictured) had three rounds of IVF treatment before giving birth to her daughter, Wynter, four years ago

A proposed law that will give employees paid time off for fertility treatments will go before parliament tomorrow. The move comes as Tory MP Nickie Aiken raised concerns that too many couples were going through gruelling IVF in secret. Claire Ingle, 45, (pictured) had three rounds of IVF treatment before giving birth to her daughter, Wynter, four years ago

Internal NHS England guidance states: ‘Fertility is an incredibly sensitive subject. All employees are able to use up to three days paid leave, which can be granted in any one year to undergo fertility treatment.’

All companies will be required to give both women and their partners time off under the Private Member’s Bill proposed by Tory MP Nickie Aiken following concerns that too many couples were having to go through multiple rounds of gruelling IVF in secret.

Claire Ingle, 45, had three rounds of IVF treatment before giving birth to her daughter, Wynter, four years ago. The first two cycles were available on the NHS but she had to go private for the third, which involved travelling from Manchester to London for appointments.

She was working in human resources in the NHS at the time and said that the lack of policy or guidance for managers added to the stress of the treatment. She said: ‘My boss would ask me why I was going to appointments. It wasn’t like a five-minute pop out to the clinic – it was a two-hour train journey.’

Ms Ingle said that, like her, many couples having IVF had to travel to the capital or even abroad for specialist fertility treatment.

Managers asking women to fit appointments around the working day wasn’t helpful because of how fertility treatment works, she said. ‘It’s like saying, don’t have your period at work. It doesn’t work like that.’

She said the lack of provision for time off left women taking either holiday time or unpaid leave – which can add to money woes over the cost of the expensive treatment.

Ms Ingle, who spent £15,000 on her third round of IVF, said she has seen couples going through seven or eight rounds of treatment. She went on to co-found the campaign group Fertility Matters At Work to offer guidance to firms and their employees.

The law would see fertility courses be treated in the same as antenatal appointments during pregnancy. NHS England and NHS Improvement have recently given all their nearly 8,000 staff the right to three days off a year specifically for fertility treatment

The law would see fertility courses be treated in the same as antenatal appointments during pregnancy. NHS England and NHS Improvement have recently given all their nearly 8,000 staff the right to three days off a year specifically for fertility treatment

One woman who wished to remain anonymous said: ‘I feel too scared to tell work I’m going through treatment. A policy that allowed days off for fertility treatment… would help.’

A survey conducted by Fertility Matters At Work showed more than one in four respondents had a negative experience with their employer while having fertility treatment.

Ms Aiken said: ‘Undergoing treatment while juggling a career is very tough. Many people feel they cannot tell their employer for fear of being overlooked for a promotion or being made redundant.

‘This must change. Couples need the permission to attend fertility appointments no matter where they work, without fear of being negatively impacted in their career.’

The Tory MP said firms should also have to provide spaces for women to carry out the necessary daily IVF injections – to stop them having to use work toilets.

Becky Kearns, co-founder of Fertility Matters At Work, said: ‘Taking time off for fertility appointments is very different to when I became pregnant and was “allowed” by law the right to attend antenatal appointments. During IVF I constantly felt guilt and worry, whereas I knew with antenatal appointments that they were expected, accepted and acknowledged as a statutory right.’

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