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Supporting Employees Undergoing Fertility Treatment

Page reviewed 19 September  2022

Introduction 

Action 5.5.5 of UCD’s Gender Equality Action Plan 2020-2024 is to develop guidance for managers and employees to support employees undergoing fertility treatment. This aligns with UCD’s vision to be a leader and role model in equality and diversity in the higher education sector both nationally and internationally and Core Objective Four to “attract, retain and develop an excellent and diverse cohort of students, faculty, and staff”. In 2020 UCD developed a surrogacy policy, which is an example of the University showing leadership and acknowledging the diversity of families in Ireland.

Anonymous Suggestion Box: Supporting Employees Undergoing Fertility Treatment in UCD

In June 2022, employees attended a session to share experiences of undergoing fertility treatment while working in UCD to contribute to the development of workplace supports for employees. Building on the recommendations (below) from this focus group, we invite UCD employees to provide feedback and suggested recommendations to this anonymous suggestion box. 

Take me to the Suggestion Box: click here

Supports

If you feel upset after completing this suggestion box, or find that some questions or aspects triggered distress, please contact the following:

  • The Employee Assistance Service (EAS): www.ucd.ie/engage/employeerelations/employeeassistanceservice/
  • EAS Freephone: 1800 814 243 (Ire)
  • EAS WhatsApp & SMS: Text ‘Hi’ to 087 369 0010
  • HSE Fertility Treatment: Link
  • Citizen's Information: Link
  • National Infertility Support and Information Group: Link
  • Employee Assistance Service: Link
  • Irish Fertility Counsellors Association:  Link
  • CFIreland: Link
  • Irish Cancer Society: Link
  • Pregnancy and Infant Loss: Link
  • Irish Hospice Foundation: Link

For more staff and support networks: https://www.ucd.ie/equality/groups/

1 in 6 couples in Ireland may experience infertility. Ireland is now the only EU state where fertility treatment is not either part funded or reimbursed by the public health system. A lack of national legislation, and publicly funded fertility treatment has an impact on individuals both in their personal life and their careers. In UCD’s Athena SWAN submission 2020, it was noted that “the requirement for supports for women fertility treatment has been raised by employees, in terms of flexibility around leave and facilities for storing medication”. 11.56% of respondents, to UCD’s EDI Survey 2021, feel that UCD does not provides sufficient supports with regard to fertility. A further 83.48% of respondents are not sure if sufficient supports are provided and 3.4% preferred not to say. 1.53% of respondents agreed that there are sufficient supports.  UCD has identified the need for policy, guidance and support for employees and managers in the workplace when navigating their fertility journey.

A private members bill, Organisation of Working Time (Reproductive Health Related Leave) Bill 2021, is currently before the Seanad at stage three. A proposed period of paid leave consequent upon miscarriage or for the purposes of availing of reproductive healthcare; for that purpose to amend the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997; to extend the protection against unfair dismissals Acts 1977 to 2015; to provide for consequential amendment of certain other Acts; and to provide for related matters.

Facilities

  • e.g. rest rooms that are not a toilet where employees can go to record, or carry out necessary checks related to fertility. Access to welfare rooms with a comfortable chair/couch. 
  • Posters, stickers in toilets with information on supports related to fertility, miscarriage etc such as those seen for Niteline.
  • Pre-pregnancy/fertility treatment risk assessment with SIRC

Fertility Champions or Support Group

Champions could support those with conversations with managers, advise on UCD policy. A fertility support group could be set up for those who would feel comfortable discussing with fellow staff members, in a supportive environment. Confidentiality and discretion is important.

Clear policy:

Encompassing those undergoing fertility treatment. In addition, current policies should be reviewed to reflect requirements. Policy should cover staff, students, permanent and temporary staff. 

Support for Disclosure Conversations:

Managers and employee guidance and supports

Training for Managers:

Supporting employees who are undergoing fertility treatment  

Awareness Raising:

 Creating a dialogue/removing isolation and silencing effect. 

Career Development:

Greater awareness and supports is required to address these types of issues and how they relate to career development. P4G reviewer - important that P4G reviewers have an awareness of EDI Leave to support employees undergoing fertility treatment. A stay on P4G could be useful.

Leave: 

Flexibility around working time in lieu, flexible options.

Virtue signalling, communicating about fertility, family friendly:

Role of Head of School, Managers, University.  

Terminology:

Review and inclusion of fertility friendly language 

Anonymity

This suggestion box is anonymous, optional and confidential. The data collected will be stored on Google Drive which is password protected by Eimear O'Reilly, Chair of the Fertility Policy Working Group, UCD Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Unit. UCD is the owner of this data. Nobody will be able to edit or change responses of respondents.

The anonymous function is switched on in Google Forms to protect employees' identity. This means that your email address is not collected. A warning message will pop-up to notify you in the event of the anonymity button not switched on.

Responses are anonymous. All data collected through this survey will be held securely and confidentially in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation 2018 and the Data Protection Act 2018.  

Consent 

By clicking NEXT to go to the survey questions you consent to participate in this online survey. 

There are no consequences if you decide not to participate, and it is very important for you to know that you can refuse to participate if you wish. You can withdraw at any time.

There is no risk involved in answering this survey. This survey is anonymous and optional. You are not required to answer any questions you feel uncomfortable answering. 

What happens next?  

Your feedback will support the development of UCD Fertility Supports aligned to the objectives of UCD Gender Equality Action Plan 2022-2024.

UCD’s Fertility Policy Working Group held an employee focus group in collaboration with UCD Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit. Professor Torres Sweeney, Vice Principal for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, College of Health and Agricultural Sciences, UCD opened the session, followed by an overview of supports from Caitriona Fitzpatrick, Chair National Infertility Support and Information Group. The employee session was facilitated by Assistant Professor Marie-Louise Ryan, School of Medicine and Eimear O’Reilly, Project Officer, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit, UCD.  

Working Group

  • Barbara Coughlan, Associate Professor, School of Midwifery, Nursing and Health Systems
  • David Crosby, Assistant Professor School of Medicine
  • Ruth Harrison, Deputy Director of Administrative Services, UCD Registry
  • Marie Moran, Assistant Professor in Equality Studies and Social Justice
  • Sorca O’Brien, Aspire Fellow in Reproductive Medicine, National Maternity Hospital and Merrion Fertility Clinic
  • Valerie O’Neill, Senior Operations Lead, Compensation and Benefits, Human Resources
  • Eimear O’Reilly, Project Officer, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit (Chair) 
  • Marie-Louise Ryan, Assistant Professor, School of Medicine

If you require any further information you can contact us using the detail below.

Chair of Fertility Working Group 

Eimear O'Reilly, Project Officer, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit

Email: eioreilly@ucd.ie  

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit

edi@ucd.ie

Contact UCD Equality Diversity and Inclusion

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
E: edi@ucd.ie