Lidl Ireland has become the latest large employer to offer paid fertility leave to its staff.*
All employees who are undergoing IVF fertility treatments are being offered two days at full pay per cycle, regardless of length of service. There is no limit to the number of cycles for which employees can avail of the policy.
Although IVF is available only privately in Ireland, employers such as Vodafone and Pinterest have introduced fertility leave for staff in moves to a more family-friendly workplace. Some employers have also introduced extended leave for pregnancy loss and surrogacy.
The Government has plans to fund the provision of IVF for parents experiencing fertility problems but this is unlikely to happen until next year, as legislation regulating fertility clinics and domestic surrogacy must first pass through the Oireachtas.
Lisa Bohan, a sales operations manager with Lidl in the northwest, welcomed her employer's new policy, even though it has come too late for her to avail of it.
Ms Bohan and her wife Catherine have a three-year-old son, Luca, and are expecting a girl in September. Both children were conceived using IVF.
“It has been a long journey for us, emotionally and financially. IVF can be stressful, and some of this stress can be work-related,” she said. “When an employer is willing to accommodate your appointments and provide leave, that helps take away the stress and any associated stigma.”
Ms Bohan says she tried to timetable fertility appointments early in the morning, before her working day, but this wasn’t easy as she had to travel to Dublin for them.
Despite the lack of regulation, an estimated 10,000 IVF cycles and other advanced assisted human reproduction treatments are undertaken in Ireland every year. Many other women travel abroad for fertility treatment.
Each IVF cycle costed €7,000-€8,500, when add-ons that can improve the success rate are included, Ms Bohan pointed out.
“The experience of IVF can be distressing, both emotionally and physically, and is not a topic commonly discussed. I was fortunate to have a very supportive line manager and I am grateful that my openness has helped shape this policy for colleagues who may be undergoing this process in the future.”
*This article was amended on April 25th, 2022