With awareness growing about infertility, talking about fertility treatments is becoming increasingly more common too. Helping people to understand more about IVF and what it involves, people experiencing infertility or using IVF to grow their family are feeling seen and heard.
Sadly, despite this recent progress surrounding awareness of fertility treatments, talking about fertility can still be wrongfully seen as taboo – both in people’s personal lives and at work. This leaves many people who are undergoing fertility treatment without the proper support from their employers.
To help you get the support you need, we’ve put together a guide helping you to speak to your employer about IVF:
Should I tell my employer about IVF?
IVF is a hugely personal journey that some people may not want to tell their employers about. The way you approach IVF and work should be fully determined by your individual circumstances and needs – not anyone else’s.
However, choosing to tell your employer about IVF can bring with it a multitude of benefits that you could miss out on if you choose not to disclose it.
Before telling your employer about IVF treatment
A little bit of prep work will go a long way in both how comfortable you feel when talking to your employer about IVF and how successful the chat goes.
Here’s some things we would recommend that you do before speaking to your employer about IVF, just to make sure you have all of your bases covered:
1. Establish if you have an IVF policy at work
This might seem like an obvious one, but so many people are unaware of the policies that their workplace has. It’s a great idea to clue yourself in on your company’s policies around things such as sickness leave, flexible working, hybrid working and fertility policies.
If they have an IVF policy at work, bingo! If not, knowing about the other policies they have can help you figure out what your needs might be when attending appointments and dealing with potential side effects.
2. Figure out what you actually want to tell your employer
Whether you’re experiencing infertility or trying to grow your family as an LGBTQ+ family or solo parent, what you tell your employer about your journey is completely up to you. Try to decide how much you want to tell your employer before you start the chat about IVF and work.
By figuring out how much you want to tell your employer, it should be easier to stick to the boundaries you’ve set for yourself and not share more than you’d like. The stress of the moment could cause you to ramble without preparing – you’ll feel more in control and at ease knowing that you lead the conversation.
3. Work out your individual needs
Not every person going through IVF at work has the same needs from their employer, so it’s important to work out your own. Consider which (if any) aspects of your job will be made more difficult by your IVF treatment, and how you’d like to work around this.
For example, someone with a very physical job lifting heavy weights or operating heavy machinery may need to switch to a less physically demanding role within the business. Someone who travels a lot may need to ask for adjustments to be made where they won’t need to take these trips, or join virtually.
Adjustments that you should consider asking your employer for include: less physically demanding roles, less or no travelling, time off work, the ability to work from home, and amongst other things, hybrid working.
How to speak with your employer about IVF treatment
Once you’ve figured out the workplace policies, how much you want to tell your employer and what you need during your IVF journey, it’s time to have a chat with your employer.
Here are some tips to make it easier talking about IVF at work:
1. Be honest and upfront about your needs
During your IVF journey, your needs are the most important thing. However, it’s best to still be considerate about the business by being as upfront as possible.
If you require some adjustments to your usual working life, say so. If you need some time off to attend appointments, say so. If you need anything to make IVF and work easier, say so. Your employer may not be very clued up on what IVF involves and the entire process. Telling them what you need is the only way they’ll know what you need.
Honesty about your needs is the only way to get the support that you may need. If you’re struggling mentally with the process of IVF, let your employer know. They can’t know that you need extra support unless you tell them.
2. Help your employer understand IVF
Despite greater awareness, it’s often the case that people don’t know the ins and outs of IVF and fertility treatment until they’re faced with the journey themselves. Some people might think that it’s a quick and easy process, and need to be educated about the actual process.
Offer to provide your employer with resources that can help them better understand what you’re going through, such as websites or IVF workshops for employers. You could explain the process yourself, but only do this if you’re 100% comfortable doing so – there’s no pressure to.
Once they know what people going through IVF experience, your employer will be more likely to be cooperative about your individual needs.
3. Protect your emotions
When talking to your employer about IVF and work, don’t feel pressured to disclose more about your journey than you want to. This is where planning what you want to say to your employer before the actual conversation will be invaluable.
Be sure to take things at your own pace and only tell your employer as much about your IVF journey as you are comfortable.
Bloss for Business is a great resource for companies to offer support to their employees and learn how to be more compassionate leaders.