One question people often ask when they’re about to start fertility treatment is whether they’ll need time off work, and if so what kind of fertility leave they are entitled to. There is no one answer to the first question as it really depends on you – on how you feel, how you react to the drugs, how your cycle progresses and of course, on the sort of work that you do as some jobs fit more easily around fertility treatment than others.
When it comes to fertility leave, again it depends on where you work. Some companies have very enlightened fertility leave policies – they may allow you to take a certain number of days off during your treatment, recognising how difficult this can be. They may offer flexible working – which is often the most helpful thing a company can do in order to allow you to fit in your clinic appointments – or additional unpaid leave if you need more time. They may even offer the partner of someone having treatment time off too. However, there is no statutory requirement to offer you any leave at all – and when we did a survey about this at Infertility Network UK some years ago, we discovered that around a third of patients didn’t admit to anyone at work that they were having treatment, often because they were concerned about the possible consequences for their careers.
In reality, what you can do if your company doesn’t have any fertility leave policy and you are having a rough time during treatment is visit your GP who will usually be happy to sign you off sick. Most GPs understand that fertility treatment can be stressful – and that patients may find work and treatment a difficult combination.
I’d be interested in your experiences of this – did you get time off for fertility treatment? Did you want time off? Did you tell your employer? Does your company have a particularly good (or particularly bad) policy on fertility leave? Do get in touch and let me know.
You may also be interested in a couple of Infertility Network UK factsheets on employment issues and fertility which you will find here