Did you know that one in seven couples have difficulty conceiving? More couples seek IVF as a plausible course of action than most people think. At the same time, the number of pregnancy discrimination cases is equally as alarming.
Whether you have conceived through IVF or are undergoing treatment, you have employment rights that are protected under the Equality Act of 2010. These are the rights you are entitled to while undergoing in vitro fertilization.
It is unlawful for your employer to treat you any less favorably when pregnant or during the IVF process. The same is true of your statutory rights, such as maternity leave. With IVF treatment, a woman is considered pregnant the moment implantation occurs.
While the Equality Act does not cover hormone treatments in the early stages of the process, it does cover implantation to birth. In the event that treatment fails, you are also covered for an additional two weeks at the end of the pregnancy. At no time is you employer allowed to discriminate against you in any way.
Taking Leave Before Implantation
For now, the law does not allow you to take time off for IVF treatment. However, employers are encouraged to act sympathetically to these requests by the Equality and Human Rights Commission Code.
Ask your human resources department about company policies regarding time off for medical appointments. Most employers provide varying types of leaves for medical treatment. These can include paid time off, unpaid leave, or annual leave. Several employers combine all three to better meet both their interests and your needs.
Keep in mind that your employer must remain consistent in how they handle these cases. If they provide time off for male staff for varying treatments but do not cover IVF, for instance, then you may be able to file a sex discrimination claim.
Taking Leave After Implantation
Once you are pregnant from IVF treatment, you are entitled to time off for your antenatal appointments as well as those recommended by a registered medical practitioner. You time off must be paid, the payment must compensate your normal hourly rate, and it must cover all working hours you take off.
Any violation of those three stipulations is grounds for a lawsuit. Do not let your employer or anyone from your company tell you otherwise. Your rights as a pregnant woman are well protected under federal law.
Bringing Up the Conversation
The most difficult part for many women is discussing IVF with their employers. It’s a delicate subject for most and often a stressful time for the person trying to conceive. However, it is in your best interest to have an open and honest conversation with your employer about your attempts at conception.
They don’t need to know every last detail, but they do need to know that you are undergoing the first stages of IVF in order to prepare for your absence. Allotting your company more time to accommodate your needs is an excellent way of ensuring they are met. Informing them of treatment schedules after implantation is also an essential part of the process.