Over one third of employers fail to offer fertility support – COVER

According to the platform, just over one third (36%) of businesses neither offer such support to staff nor have plans to offer it the near future.

The research does suggest, however, that the number of staff offering fertility support to their staff has been steadily increasing over the years, with 7% planning to implement some form of support in this area in the future and 22% of employers responding they have always offered fertility support in the workplace.

Over the last year, 15% of business in the UK have put fertility support in place, while 11% were in the process of arranging such support.

"Fertility support is not just for those who will experience fertility problems but it is also about providing support and resources for staff at this significant time in their lives when they are starting or expanding a family," said Dr Mridula Pore, chief executive of Peppy.

"As a growing number of employers are finding, it makes good business sense toprovide fertility support for employees. If employers do not offer support, employees may need to take time off to get that support elsewhere or indeed may not reach out for any support and suffer in silence. This has potential consequences for their employer, including loss in engagement and productivity and the risk of increased absence," she added.

Types of fertility issues that staff experience can vary, Peppy stressed. And while 33% of employers believe the most critical fertility issue employees need support with is that of miscarriage and baby loss, 30% of employers also recognised that fertility is generally a topic that staff find difficult to raise with HR.

The study also revealed that one third (30%) of companies stated mental health issues triggered by fertility issues were a key area that required significant attention and support, though it was not always immediately obvious who needed support.

29% of employers recognized it was difficult to identify those who may require help: "Fertility can be seen as a very binary issue - employees and their partners either are or aren't pregnant. This monthly cycle of hope and despair can be particularly difficult for employers to manage," added Pore.

"Employers need to think about providing support that not only deals with the practicalities of fertility treatment but crucially also encompasses comprehensive emotional support too. Not only offering a source of trusted professional support, but also a sense of community. It's also really important to ensure support is available to all staff, so that employers are not making assumptions based on age, gender or situation."

The right support

A significant number of employers (37%) agreed supporting employee fertility issues was hard because of the reluctance amongst staff to discuss the topic, while a third of employers said they found it difficult to manage how long employees needed off work, though 19% also said presenteeism (working whilst not being fit to do so) was also an issue.

Peppy advised that while most businesses may lack the resources or expertise to deliver fertility support directly, both the employer and employee can stand to benefit from outside specialist support.

Employees are more likely to speak openly if they are offered personalised help, the platform said.

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Over one third of employers fail to offer fertility support - COVER

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