Lidl Ireland’s Fertility Pay Announcement
Key Contact: Claire Knowles
Author: Saskia Musacchio
As part of Lidl Ireland’s launch of their industry-leading benefits package including compassionate leave for employees affected by early pregnancy loss or miscarriage, menopause support, fostering leave and carers’ leave, the company have become the first major retailor in Ireland to offer paid time off to all employees undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The leading supermarket revealed on Monday that those employees undertaking IVF treatments will be offered two days’ full pay. Their employees are eligible for this benefit per IVF cycle that they undergo.
The announcement from Lidl comes following the Irish government’s decision for their Department of Health to fund IVF treatment from 2023. It is therefore clear to see how the tide might be beginning to turn towards an expansion of family and fertility benefits.
Indeed, trends seeing employers developing their benefits packages to include costs of fertility treatment are already starting to emerge in the national marketplace. In the past year at least a handful of companies such as NatWest, Clifford Chance, Centrica, and Cooley have launched fertility pay benefits.
Although at certain stages of the IVF treatment cycle employees will be protected against discrimination on the grounds of sex under the Equality Act 2010 (EA 2010), meaning that during those stages employers cannot treat them less favourably because they are going through IVF treatment, employment law does not currently provide specific protections to those undergoing IVF, and in particular it is not a protected characteristic under the EA 2010. Therefore, it is arguably in an employer’s best interest to provide such a benefit to increase its corporate social responsibility.
More expansively, providing such a benefit could positively impact the employer in many different ways. For example, in a commercial sense, the inclusion of fertility pay benefits could assist in creating a culture of inclusiveness, building upon and being compatible with the protections of the EA 2010 and could therefore help to attract a more diverse workforce. It could also assist with the retention of the best employees, which could then create a more effective workforce and generate a higher turnover. This could then strengthen the mutual trust and confidence between the employer and employee. Reputationally, this could elevate the business’ image in the national marketplace and beyond, thus potentially generating higher turnover and new recruits.
Coupled with a now more fluid market in which employees can pick and choose where they work, we predict that more employers will start to provide the same attractive benefit.
If you require any further information, please contact the Acuity Employment team.