Employers should put in place policies for staff undergoing fertility treatment to avoid costly discrimination claims, law firm Eversheds has advised.
The call followed the publication of a survey by campaign group Infertility Network UK, which revealed that almost one-third of workers undergoing fertility treatment do not tell their manager for fear that it will harm their future career prospects.
Two-thirds of the 300 patients questioned said they had kept their treatment secret because they were worried about the consequence of their employer knowing they were trying to get pregnant.
Naeema Choudry, employment law partner at Eversheds, said: “If a female employee feels she has been passed over for promotion or training because her employer is aware that she is undergoing fertility treatment, there could be a discrimination claim.
“Current case law suggests there is no basis for a sex discrimination claim in these circumstances, but a claim of indirect discrimination could be upheld.”
Stipulating that hospital appointments should be taken at the beginning or end of the day will be helpful to employers, but also makes allowances for the employee, Choudry said. While there is no legal requirement for employers to allow staff to take time off for medical appointments, most realise the need for flexibility on both sides.