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Seven steps to building an inclusive fertility policy 

Jenny Saft, CEO - Apryl 

1. Reflect on your motivations for offering fertility as a benefit
Before building a fertility benefits policy, it’s important to carefully consider your reasons for offering this provision. Reflect honestly on your motivations: are you doing this because you want everyone on your team to be able to afford fertility care if they need it? Are you looking to retain and attract top talent? Or are you hoping that fertility provision will boost productivity and wellbeing? Whatever your reasoning (and there may be a combination of motivating factors) ensure you’re clear on why you want to offer fertility as a benefit – as this will dictate what your policy looks like and how you communicate it to your team.

2. Understand your demographic
Every team is different, with different health needs and plans for the future. If you want to build an inclusive fertility policy, you need to build a policy that empowers everyone – irrespective of gender identity, relationship status or sexual orientation – to access the fertility and family forming support they need. Survey your team anonymously so you can find out what fertility support they think they might need over the coming months and years. You can then work backwards to understand which fertility benefits to offer, and the budget you need to allocate to ensure everyone has a meaningful amount to spend. The most inclusive policies will provide access to multiple routes to fertility and parenthood, from egg freezing and IVF, through to surrogacy and adoption.

3. Keep things anonymous
Anonymity is really important when it comes to offering fertility services to your team. Fertility struggles are deeply personal, so your people need to feel reassured that the care they’re accessing, should they wish to access, is completely private and confidential. To guarantee confidentiality, you could onboard a fertility benefits platform or an external expert so that employees can research, book and pay for treatments using their allocated budget, without having to go through their manager. Keeping things anonymous means people are more likely to use their benefits: which is ultimately what every employer should want.

4. Offer more than just cash
It’s important to recognise that offering inclusive fertility benefits isn’t just about offering a budget for treatments. It’s about going deeper with expert support to help people understand and manage their fertility over the long term. A truly inclusive fertility policy will not only pay for treatments, but will also give people access to the very best experts, so they feel guided and supported throughout their fertility journey. A well-rounded policy will also signpost to your people that it is more than just a tick box exercise; and that you genuinely want the best for your staff.

5. Remember that fertility issues affect everyone – not just people who menstruate
Infertility does not know genders. Men and women are equally as likely to be impacted. Yet the majority of the rhetoric surrounding fertility benefits is focused on people with uteruses – as ultimately, these are the people who’ll eventually carry the baby. This is something you should address in your fertility policy, as it’s important not to alienate half of the population (and potentially a large proportion of your workforce), who could be experiencing fertility issues, too. By offering a broad spectrum of fertility support – including sperm freezing, IVF, adoption and surrogacy – you can ensure your policy is inclusive to people of all genders and sexual orientations, ensuring it’s genuinely useful to all who wish to use it.

6. Build support for partners into your package
The employees in your organisation who are using your fertility support won’t always be the only people in that fertility journey. Often, there will also be a partner who is with them every step of the way. This means your fertility policy should include support for the partners of those undergoing treatment. Ensure employees’ partners are also able to access the advice, clinical expertise and consultations that their partner is using. It can be useful to implement a ‘Life Partner Agreement’ to make this happen. As part of this agreement, it can be helpful to protect your policy by stipulating that employers can’t change their partner more than once a year.

7. Communicate your policy effectively
Once you’ve settled on a policy, it’s vital to communicate it clearly to your workforce. It’s all well and good offering the world, but if you don’t communicate your policy effectively to employees, you’re not going to notice its impact. First, ensure your workforce understands your motivations for offering fertility as a benefit. Companies have come under fire in the past for only offering egg freezing, for example, as workers thought it was a way to squeeze more work out of women. So identify any potential messaging challenges upfront.

Next, collate practical information about your fertility benefits policy in an easily accessible place, so that everyone knows what they’re entitled to and how they access it. And don’t just communicate this information once! Be sure to remind your people, throughout the year, that they have this incredible resource at their fingertips should they need to use it.

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