Bectu publishes new guidance on fertility issues at work for members in unscripted TV

10 March 2022

The Unscripted TV Union (UTVU), part of Bectu, has published new guidance on fertility issues at work.

The new guidance outlines what Bectu’s Unscripted Branch sees as a company’s responsibility to demonstrate its understanding of fertility issues in the workplace, and to provide appropriate support and adjustments for those impacted by these issues.

It outlines how menstruation, fertility treatment, pregnancy loss and the menopause can affect workers and provides guidance for companies on how to best support employees affected by them, setting out clear recommendations for how to make workplaces more comfortable for those affected by fertility-related issues.

Recommendations include flexible working options and paid time off for appointments, free sanitary products, consideration of workplace temperature and ventilation, and provision of counselling where appropriate.

The guidance also focuses on the importance of creating open and inclusive workplace cultures where workers can be open about any fertility-related issues they may be going through.

The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee’s recent survey on menopause and the workplace, commissioned as part of its ongoing Menopause and the Workplace inquiry, found that 1 in 3 women are missing work due to menopause symptoms – yet less than a third of respondents told anyone at work about their symptoms and just under 11% requested adjustments in the workplace. Those who did not request adjustments were most likely to do so as a result of stigma.

Almost one in five respondents did not know who to speak to in order to request adjustments, which led to them not speaking up.

Companies are encouraged to use this new guidance to create their own policies relating to fertility issues, or embed it into existing policies, including those relating to absence and sickness, wellbeing, and diversity and inclusion policies.

You can view the guidance here. 

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said:

“Unions have a key role to play in challenging discrimination in the workplace. Removing the stigma or taboo that can surround fertility-related issues is crucial in ensuring workers can speak more openly about them and employers can offer the right support.

“Having a fertility issues policy and embedding these issues into workplace conversations is one step employers can take to ensure their workplaces are truly open, tolerant and compassionate places to work.”

UTVU Women’s Officer and author of the guidance, Michelle Reynolds, said:

“It’s been fantastic to see increased recognition of the physical and mental health impacts of fertility-related issues, which too often go unseen and unacknowledged in the workplace. But we know that too many people continue to suffer in silence at work and aren’t receiving the support they need.

“There are often simple adjustments companies can make to ensure those affected by fertility-related issues feel comfortable and safe in the workplace. And by committing to an inclusive fertility policy, a company can help address the uncertainty its workers may have about how the employer will address such issues at work and what workers should do to access support.”

“We hope the unscripted TV sector can lead the way in ensuring that all individuals affected by menstruation, fertility treatment, pregnancy loss or the menopause are treated fairly and with dignity and respect at work.”