Many women and men have invested time, money, hopes and dreams in IVF treatment, while taking unpaid leave for extensive medical appointments and related treatments. Traditionally these experiences are never shared in the workplace and thus they remain hidden.
A silent ripple is now building throughout Ireland, with more and more people speaking about their experiences with the challenges and sadness of infertility.
Research carried out recently by the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation found that 60 per cent of their members surveyed had had experience of managing reproductive health-related matters during work time. Currently, employees and their partners are required to use sick leave or take annual or unpaid leave if they require time off for fertility and other reproductive health-related treatments.
Some companies around Ireland are starting to introduce new I.V.F maternity leave policies with paid time off for staff undergoing I.V.F treatment.
Lidl and Vodafone have both announced in recent months that they will be introducing these new policies.
A statement from Lidl indicated that all 1,300 staff in Northern Ireland will be entitled to two days paid leave per IVF cycle, regardless of how long they have been employed.
Vodafone staff undergoing fertility treatment will also be entitled to 10 paid days of leave per year, while the partners of people having fertility treatment will receive two days’ paid leave. Vodafone Ireland has promised that additional flexibility regarding leave will also be offered depending on the employee’s situation.
Vodafone is also offering primary caregiver parents whose baby is born through surrogacy 26 weeks of fully paid parental leave, mirroring the company’s maternity leave offering. Vodafone will also increase its maternity leave and surrogacy leave offering for full-time and part-time retail employees from 16 weeks to 26 weeks full pay.
All non-birthing and non-primary caregiver new parents at Vodafone will still be entitled to 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave. They can also avail of a six-month period working 80% of the working week on full pay. Preparation leave of 10 paid working days will be set aside by Vodafone for prospective parents to attend preparation classes and related appointments.
Lidl and Vodafone Ireland are not the only companies looking to offer workers better fertility and parental leave benefits.
Pinterest announced that from 1 January this year it would offer its employees a minimum of 20 weeks of paid parental leave, with paid leave for pregnancy loss as well as IVF and egg freezing benefits.
A growing number of Irish employers across sectors are supporting their staff during what can be a difficult and challenging time in their lives.