The new policy will see the retailer offer two days’ paid leave per IVF cycle, which is unlimited in the number of IVF cycles employees will be supported through, as well as support for staff undergoing egg freezing.
In the UK, more than 3.5 million people experience a fertility challenge and in NI, infertility affects around 9-15% of couples.
The number of people undergoing IVF is also rising – in 2019, IVF birth rates were three times higher than in 1991 - and the number of patients aged over 40 more than doubled in this time, accounting for 21% of all IVF patients.
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Despite the rising incidence of IVF treatment, financial support is decreasing. In NI, this fell from 50% of all cycles being funded to 32% by 2019. According to Fertility Network UK, 90% of IVF patients say they have suffered depression due to infertility.
As a family retailer, Lidl NI aims to encourage a national conversation to help destigmatise isolating and traumatic fertility challenges which are lived by so many people in NI every day. The retailer’s new Fertility Paid Leave Policy is part of a relaunch of its industry-leading benefits package which seeks to support staff throughout all stages of their lives.
Kate Bohan, Lidl sales operations manager, said: “Lidl NI’s ongoing recognition of the changing needs of our colleagues is a testament to the company’s commitment to being an employer that stands for more, and one that isn’t afraid to break stigmas on topics that are often shrouded in silence. My partner is currently pregnant with our second baby through IVF and I am immensely proud to see Lidl NI fiercely support women undergoing this process in a sensitive and caring way.
“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. Through recognising the need for change in this area, Lidl NI is acknowledging not only the support needed in time off, but also contributing to the conversation surrounding IVF, which is beneficial to us as a workplace and to society as a whole.”
Recognised as a Top Employer for 2022 by the Top Employers Institute for a second year running, Lidl NI’s enhanced employee benefits package includes a number of supportive leave policies including compassionate leave for employees affected by early pregnancy loss or miscarriage, menopause support resources for employees and line managers, maternity leave, adoptive leave, paternity leave, parents leave, fostering leave and carer’s leave.
Lidl NI’s comprehensive new benefits package is designed to support and develop employees, ensuring that they can achieve their potential whilst balancing the demands of taking time out of work to care for their families.
Conor Boyle, Lidl NI regional managing director, said: “At Lidl NI, we recognise that the needs of our employees are evolving all the time as they progress though different stages of their lives. As a family retailer and major local employer, we know that our people do their best work when they are valued and supported in a workplace that is inclusive, so it’s critical for us to take into account that not every family’s path to parenthood is the same.
“Our new fertility paid leave support is the latest enhanced paid leave package which we’re very proud to offer all of our employees, at all levels from day one. We’re committed to ensuring that we remain an employer of choice and one that is key to fostering a positive environment for working parents.”