Can I take time off for IVF appointments?

You have no formal statutory right to time off for IVF appointments, whether paid or unpaid. Even so, some employers, especially in unionised workplaces, have agreed special procedures for time off.

If treatment makes you feel unwell, you will be entitled to sick leave and pay under your employer's normal sick pay procedure.

Consider whether a more flexible working pattern would help you during periods of treatment.

If you are penalised for taking time off for IVF appointments in the early stages of IVF, this is likely to be sex discrimination if your employer would have responded differently to a man taking the same amount of time off.

It won't be 'pregnancy discrimination' until after the transfer of the fertilised ovum into the uterus, creating a pregnancy. Take specialist advice as soon as possible.

Even so, the European Court of Justice has ruled that, in the advanced stages of IVF (between the retrieval of the ova and the immediate transfer of the fertilised ova into the uterus), a woman is entitled to protection from negative treatment linked to IVF without having to compare herself with a man. This is because only women can undergo invasive IVF treatment.

Take specialist advice as soon as possible.

Once the ovum is successfully implanted, the usual statutory rights to time off for antenatal care are triggered.

Check the website of charity Maternity Action for more information or call their helpline on 0845 600 85 33.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.