The recently announced changes to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (the ‘HFE Act’) on the freezing of eggs, sperm and embryos mean that employees will have more choices about having children – a catalyst for employers to review their fertility policy.
The new regulations mean that there will now be parity between those who wish to store their eggs, sperm or embryos for medical and non-medical (‘social’) reasons, with the freezing limit set to 55 years for both.
Peppy believes that this change means that inevitably, more prospective parents within the workplace will have questions about fertility treatment and egg freezing, as they will now have more freedoms about when and how to start or grow their families later in life.
In addition, there will be much more of a need to have an HR fertility policy in place, as fertility support is not just needed for rising talent – employers simply don’t know who in their workforce may need support as it is no longer just people of a reproductive age.
Francesca Steyn, director of fertility services at Peppy (and current chair of the Royal College of Nursing Fertility Nurses Forum) said: Employers can best help those employees considering or going through egg-freezing by empowering them with the right information and support at all stages of their fertility journey. This starts by having an inclusive fertility policy in place alongside comprehensive fertility support.
‘As employers are likely to see an increase in the number of people having fertility treatment, and therefore needing time off for appointments and for treatment cycles, there is going to be much more of a need for fertility support for the entire workforce – not only because it is the right thing for employers to offer but also to ensure equality for all staff.’
Peppy also suggests that fertility support and information should not only be applied to people going through IVF, but should also be readily available for people who are considering their options with regard to their future family plans.
Francesca Steyn continued: ‘This incredibly sensitive topic is one that all employers are going to need to prepare for. The right support means that staff will feel more comfortable and supported by work throughout their fertility journey, and employers will be better able to retain those employees who are preparing to become parents.’