If you are going through fertility treatment to start a family, it can be an extremely stressful and emotional time. Trying to work full-time and cover up the endless medical appointments, blood tests, procedures, and follow-ups can be hard work and super stressful too!
There might come a point in your TTC journey where the stress of trying to juggle it all becomes too much. Then you wonder if you might be better off opening up and telling work what you are going through.
But, should you tell work you are trying to conceive? Or is it best kept under wraps until there is a pregnancy to announce?
Fertility treatment and work
As many as 1 in 7 couples experience difficulties conceiving. Many of these will go on to seek help and fertility treatment to start a family. It’s understandable a hugely emotional journey. It can also be physically demanding and can affect your ability to work in practical ways.
A study from the fertility network unveiled that a whopping 84% of women undergoing fertility treatment whilst working felt their ability to work and concentrate was affected by the process. Despite this huge percentage, only a quarter said they felt supported by their workplace policies. They also reported a lack of reasonable adjustments being made by their employers.
Stats like this sadden us deeply. Going through IVF isn’t easy, and the fact that so many women feel unsupported at work doesn’t sit right. It’s no wonder so many consider keeping what they are going through to themselves.
Despite this, there are employers out there who will, given the opportunity, do all they can to support workers going through fertility treatment. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of telling work you are trying to conceive.
Should I tell work I am trying to conceive?
Deciding to tell your boss that you are considering or currently going through fertility treatment is a deeply personal choice. It’s thought that around half of people choose not to tell their colleagues about their infertility struggles. But you need to keep in mind that if you decide to keep quiet, there may be some negative implications.
For example, they may not be so understanding of your time off if they don’t know why. Also, constantly coming up with reasons for being off can also be stressful.
You may find you feel relieved if you do decide to share your fertility struggles with work. When your employer knows you are going through fertility treatment, they are more likely to understand when you need to adapt your schedule or work from home and ultimately reduce your stress levels and keep your job whilst undergoing fertility treatment.
It is possible that after you’ve considered everything, you decide you don’t want to talk about your infertility at work. That’s completely fine too. You are under no obligation to reveal what is going on in your private life with work or anyone else.
Some women become concerned that if they do decide to share their situation with their employer that it might jeopardise their position. Or they might face a negative reaction or discrimination.
How to tell work I am trying to conceive
If you decide to take the plunge and tell work about your IVF treatment, the decision of how you tell them is likely to depend on your relationship with your boss and your company culture. Here are some tips on how to approach the conversation:
- Schedule a private meeting: Request a private meeting with your manager or HR representative to discuss this matter.
- Be clear and concise: Start by stating that you are starting IVF treatment and may require some accommodations or time off in the future.
- Keep it professional: Focus on the practicalities of how it may affect your work, such as any potential absences or changes in workload, rather than getting into personal details unless you feel it’s appropriate.
- Assure them of your commitment: Reiterate your commitment to your job and that you want to work with them but need their support.
- Ask for support: If you need any specific accommodations, such as a more flexible schedule or remote work options, now is the time to ask.
If you do choose to share, and are worried about their reaction, remember that you have legal protections regarding pregnancy and fertility treatment. Your employer should not discriminate against you in any way because of your decision to pursue IVF treatment.
Do I have a right to time off work for fertility treatment?
Annoyingly, in the UK, there is currently no statutory right to time off work for fertility treatment.
That being said, the guidance states that an employer should treat your IVF appointments for IVF like any other medical appointment If you need time off sick during your fertility treatment, you should be treated no differently than if you were off sick for any other reason.
Make sure you follow your company’s policies on sick leave. Be aware that frequent time off, for any reason and especially unexplained, could eventually trigger disciplinary procedures. It’s worth checking out your company’s policies on leave to know where you stand.
Some companies do have a special leave policy for employees undergoing fertility treatment. This could entitle you to paid or unpaid time off work for your treatment. If your company offers this, we would strongly advise booking a meeting with your manager or HR department to explain your position to make sure your appointments are covered under any such policy.
Choosing to tell work you are trying to conceive is a very personal decision. However, it’s worth keeping in mind if you do share that you could be entitled to additional support depending on your workplace policies. Going through IVF alone can be stressful and consuming. Sharing with work can help lighten your load.
If you would like to discuss your options or anything else with a community of women who are currently trying to conceive and undergoing fertility treatment, join the Hoopsy fertility community we can’t wait to meet you!