Co-op is offering paid fertility leave to workers who are trying to start a family… and may extend scheme to include partners
- The Co-op is offering paid leave to any of its staff undergoing fertility treatment
- The company of 70,000 people said the time off will be flexible and unrestricted
- Boss Shirine Khoury-Haq said she wanted to create a supportive environment
The Co-op is offering paid leave to any of its staff undergoing fertility treatment.
The company, which employs nearly 70,000 people, said the time off is flexible and unrestricted. It is also extending the measures to partners wanting to accompany those going to fertility treatment appointments, with paid leave for up to ten appointments per cycle up to three cycles.
Co-op chief executive Shirine Khoury-Haq said that she has gone through fertility treatment herself and wants a supportive environment for her employees.
Co-op said that anyone can access the paid support and it does not matter how long they have worked at Co-op or how many hours they work.
It follows a number of large UK companies, like NatWest and Centrica, launching similar fertility policies last year.
The Co-op is offering paid leave to any of its staff undergoing fertility treatment. The company, which employs nearly 70,000 people, said the time off is flexible and unrestricted
NatWest introduced employee discounts for treatments including IVF and sperm freezing, while Centrica partnered with a reproductive healthcare benefits provider.
There is currently no legal right for employees to take paid leave for fertility treatment in the same way that there is for antenatal appointments, such as scans and health checks.
But employers should treat IVF appointments and any sickness the same as any other medical appointment or sickness, according to workplace expert group Acas.
The launch has been met with support from charities Fertility Matters at Work and Surrogacy UK which argue that there is a need for more inclusive and supportive professional environments.
Ms Khoury-Haq said: ‘It is incredibly difficult to navigate through fertility treatment while balancing work and the wider impact it has on your life.
‘Sadly, in some cases, there is also the need to manage the physical and emotional impact of failed cycles and even pregnancy loss.
NatWest introduced employee discounts for treatments including IVF and sperm freezing, while Centrica partnered with a reproductive healthcare benefits provider
‘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.’
Co-op has an existing policy that means employees affected by pregnancy loss are eligible for full paid leave if they cannot access either maternity or parental bereavement leave.
Caroline Nokes MP, chair of the Commons women and equalities committee, said: ‘I really welcome the Co-op’s leading response to fertility support for employees.
‘We all recognise the pressures placed on families and individuals going through fertility treatment, and time off to support partners is such an important step forward.
‘But crucially we still talk too little about these sorts of issues and I hope the Co-op is also able to create the inclusive and supportive environment that is so desperately needed.’