New enhanced policy supports individuals, partners and surrogates receiving and recovering from fertility treatment.
At the start of National Fertility Week, Co-op has launched their new fertility treatment policy.
The policy provides flexible unrestricted paid time off for colleagues attending medical appointments whilst undergoing fertility treatment, including colleagues using a surrogate. There is also paid time off for employees whose partners are undergoing fertility treatment, regardless of how long they have worked for Co-op or the number of hours they work (partners include same sex partners/intended parents/colleagues conceiving through a surrogate).
Shirine Khoury-Haq, Chief Executive of the Co-op, said: “It’s incredibly difficult to navigate through fertility treatment while balancing work and the wider impact it has on your life.
“The decision to discuss this with your employer is an incredibly difficult and personal one. However, by creating a supportive environment companies can go a long way in opening the conversation with colleagues and easing the stress that people in this situation often feel. Having gone through all of this myself, I felt very lucky to be in a supportive professional environment; however, this isn’t always the case for so many people. I feel very proud that the Co-op is leading the way on launching a fertility policy and supporting our colleagues at a time when they need it most.”
New research by the company has found almost half of people currently undertaking or who have undertaken fertility treatment whilst working didn’t talk to their manager beforehand.
Over four fifths (81%) of people who have had some direct, or indirect, experience with IVF treatment whilst working say a fertility treatment policy at work should be a legal requirement for all UK companies.
The new policy is endorsed by charities Fertility Matters at Work and Surrogacy UK.
Claire Ingle, Co-Founder of Fertility Matters at Work comments: “It is inspiring when organisations such as the Co-op recognise the need to support conversations such as this one and we often find it is often personal struggles that become the motivator to do so as outlined by Shirine, the CEO. Policies are a great starting point to get the ball rolling and signal to people in the organisation that their struggles are valid but there is more we can do to see significant cultural change in this arena to really make a difference for those who are faced with fertility struggles.”
Co-op is also set to launch a specific guide for managers to help provide appropriate practical and emotional support to those going through fertility treatment. The guide, which will be made publicly available by Co-op, comes as Co-op’s research found that 65% of people who managed or are managing someone going through IVF treatment whilst working say they have not received training on how to support colleagues undergoing fertility treatment. Meanwhile, 85% of those managers agreed more training was needed to provide better support for colleagues going through fertility treatment in the workplace.