Work-life balance and medically assisted reproduction (MAR): MAR uses experiences of workplace support

Payne, Nicola ORCID logoORCID:, van den Akker, Olga ORCID logoORCID:, Constantinou, Christina and Lewis, Suzan ORCID logoORCID: (2014) Work-life balance and medically assisted reproduction (MAR): MAR uses experiences of workplace support. In: 11th Conference of the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology, 14-16 Apr 2014, London, United Kingdom. . [Conference or Workshop Item]


Background: Over 40,000 people in the UK each year use Medically Assisted Reproduction (MAR) such as In vitro fertilisation, Yet, there are no statutory entitlements to absence or flexible working, despite the long, physically and psychologically demanding MAR process. Work-life balance policy focuses on supporting expectant and existing parents and carers, and few work environments have policies in place to support MAR users. Many theories of work-life balance have been proposed. For example, traditional theories focus on the concept of role conflict, whereby conflict is experienced when pressures arising in one role are incompatible with pressures arising in another role. However, research has focused on the experiences of parents and carers. Therefore, this research aimed to explore the experiences of MAR users of combining work and using MAR and identify barriers to and supports for the successful combination of employment and MAR use.

Method: Interviews of approximately one hour were conducted with 31 women and 6 men who were using or had previously used MAR. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis was conducted.

Findings: The time demands of having treatment (i.e. needing time off for appointments and procedures, e.g. scans, blood tests, egg collection, embryo implantation) conflicted with work but for many participants it was the emotional rollercoaster of treatment (including the effects of the drugs) that conflicted most with work. However, work also provided a distraction from the emotional demands of treatment. Job flexibility and a supportive line manager reduced the experience of conflict, especially time-based conflict, enabling some participants to put work on the back-burner to some extent. Line manager support was sometimes just practical (i.e. supporting time-off) but often both practical and emotional (i.e. offering sympathy and concern), especially where there were shared experiences of fertility issues. Unsupportive experiences were also reported. Few workplaces had specific policy/guidance in place relating to MAR use. Mostly other formal policies (e.g. annual leave, sick leave) or informal practices (e.g. shift swaps, making up time later, allowing flexibility) were used to provide support. Participants felt that specific policy was needed to support MAR users and to assist line managers.

Conclusions: While participants imagined or had experienced that line managers and organisations may have difficulties in providing support/implementing policies, where they were supported, they often reported feeling more loyal and committed. Thus provision of support may be mutually beneficial for employees and employers, especially in terms of employee retention and commitment.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Applied Health Psychology group
Item ID: 15363
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Nicola Payne
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2015 11:30
Last Modified: 02 Jan 2020 03:58

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