Supermarket giant Asda is to give its female staff paid time off for having fertility treatment, the first major UK employer to take such a step.
The company said that women will be entitled to up to five days paid leave during the course of IVF treatment. Male employees whose partners are having IVF treatment will also be entitled take up to one-and-a-half days off.
The offer will apply to all Asda’s 129,000 workers regardless of length of service or whether they work full-time or part-time.
Mark Hamilton of the British Fertility Society welcomed Asda’s initiative. "Some patients are lucky to have understanding bosses, and for them, getting time off is not a problem,” he said.
"But this isn't the case for all patients and the difficulties they encounter compound their fertility problems."
Asda workers can claim time off for IVF treatment on up to three occasions. If more time is needed they can arrange shift-swaps with colleagues, have unpaid leave or take holiday entitlement.