Allowing employees to take paid time off work to attend fertility appointments would help “lift the veil” for those undergoing treatment, a Conservative MP has said.
Nickie Aiken said the proposed legislation aimed to “improve the employment rights that people undergoing IVF treatment currently have”, putting it in the same category as antenatal appointments.
Speaking to the PA news agency, the MP for Cities of London and Westminster said: “I hope we can just lift the veil on IVF because I think there’s a feeling amongst people I’ve spoken to, that they think it’s a lifestyle choice and I think we have to actually change the attitude – it’s not, it’s a medical treatment.”
She added: “What I’m hoping this Bill will do is provide women and men with the confidence to be able to go to their employer, to have a conversation and employers feeling confident enough to have fertility policies.”
“It’s very much an intensive procedure and it has to be at certain times of a woman’s cycle – she can’t put it off, she’s got to go that day.”
Ms Aiken said she had been “overwhelmed by the response” to her Bill from women and men across the country, plus organisations and clinics.
She added: “(With) 40% of couples going through fertility treatment is due to the male and it’s the woman who obviously has go through all the treatment.”
Malta, she said, had recently introduced 100 hours of paid leave – 60 hours for the woman, 40 for the partner.
Ms Aiken added: “I understand that some couples want to keep it quiet because it is a private thing and that’s absolutely right, but for those who don’t want to and want to have that support and help from their employers, then they should be allowed to, they shouldn’t feel that they’ve got to keep it hidden.”
“I do think it should become a general rule that employers support any member of their staff who is going through fertility treatment.”
She said such a law change she said would enable employees to be “happy and stress free because they will then be more productive”.
“As a society and as a country our birth rate is falling, therefore we need more babies to be born. Infertility is increasing in this country and, therefore, more couples do need intervention.”
She added: “That’s what’s been so shocking to me, the number of women who’ve contacted me to say they were side-lined or sacked because it was discovered they were undergoing IVF. It’s shocking and it’s unacceptable in the 21st century.”
“At the moment infertility treatment is in the same category as cosmetic surgery and I would humbly suggest that undergoing IVF is different to having cosmetic surgery.”
Ms Aiken’s Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill has been presented to Parliament and she is seeking further consideration at a second reading in the Commons on Friday, November 25.