In support of National Fertility Awareness Week (28 October – 3 November 2019) Aon, a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions (NYSE: AON), has advised that infertility can impact employees’ emotional and financial wellbeing, with a potential knock-on effect to organisational productivity.
According to Aon, infertility is not typically or well covered by medical insurance, and there is inconsistent support from the primary care sector, so forward-thinking employers are reviewing the issue as part of their employee benefit packages.
Aon says employee support can be provided in five key ways:
- Financial – providing medical coverage options that support infertility or providing workplace low interest loans
- Standalone fertility benefit packages (funded or self-funded)
- Flexibility in working hours to support time required to attend appointments, consultations and procedures.
- Open, supportive working environments to encourage employees to discuss fertility issues without fear of repercussion.
- Mental health support, such as access to Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
One in seven couples in the UK are expected to experience fertility issues. The NHS may support couples in the initial stages, perhaps to review symptoms or diagnose a cause, and some may stretch to surgical intervention. Other individuals, however, may require additional invasive treatments which are not routinely funded by the NHS.
Rachel Western, principal at Aon, said:
“The diagnosis of infertility could result in a tremendous impact on the emotional and psychological wellbeing of an individual, often exacerbated by the financial stress created due to the cost of treatment options.Treatment, too, can be time consuming and result in reduced productivity at work and increased absences”.
Aon explains that fertility treatments include medical and surgical procedures, or assisted conception depending on the underlying cause. Private care is an option beyond the NHS, but it can be expensive and, as with all fertility treatment, offers no guarantees. Furthermore, it is unusual to be offered as part of a medical insurance scheme in the UK at present.
Rachel Western continued:
“Forward-thinking firms are considering supporting employees through employee benefits packages, not least because the financial implications for individuals can be considerable. The average cost of fertility treatment is approximately £5,000 per cycle and in many instances multiple cycles are performed. Understandably, the emotional costs can be enormous too.”
“Given this emotional and financial pressure, employers who think about ways to support individuals are likely to be viewed favourably by employees. In addition, providing this support can help maintain productivity, which needs to be a consideration from a business management perspective.”