One of the difficulties in regularly undertaking IVF whilst working full-time is explaining why you are taking time off on sick leave. You know you are going to be in hospital – you just don’t know when. This simple fact, can create a myriad of problems. Like for example when I was expected to fly to another state to oversee a TV commercial shoot when I might potentially be in a hospital bed having my eggs collected.
As it happened in that example, I told my manager about my dilemma. I think this may have been around IVF cycle #2. Naively, I thought this may make life a little easier. Bad assumption! Since I told her about my plight, she asked me if I was taking sick leave or annual leave. I told her I had intended on taking sick leave.
My manager’s response was most interesting. I was questioned whether I should be taking annual leave or sick leave. The rationale being that she considered the treatment I was having as being “elective.” She then proceeded to tell me about another staff member who had to take annual leave (not IVF) when having elective surgery.
Ignoring the ethics of her disclosure, I contemplated her comment for a while. To say I was speechless would be an understatement. I was totally amazed that she had the gall to ask me this. Especially since I know that she herself wants to have children one day. In any case, it highlights to me that we are all really very ignorant of our ability to get pregnant. We take it for granted that it will just happen. I know I did.
But back to my story on annual leave versus sick leave. It was bad enough being asked this the once. But I was seriously offended when this was thrown up in my face on no less than 3 occasions over the course of six months. In end, I had to tell my Manager that I was offended by her comments. I thought they indicated a complete lack of regard for my situation. I hoped that she would never have to face the situation I was in.
On reflection, I strongly believe that IVF treatment should be considered sick leave and not annual leave for the following reasons:
1. Most people I know don’t choose to be infertile
2. Like any other illness, a person chooses to have treatment or not.
3. The condition may not be life threatening, but it is highly emotional and it is not uncommon for complications to occur as a result (e.g. Ovarian Hypo-stimulation, Depression)
4. A doctor issues a certificate for the procedure (I assume this is not issued when undertaking cosmetic surgery.
5. In Australia, the treatment is partially medicare refundable
In any case, I would love to hear the views of other people navigating their way through IVF and infertility. You all know my views but I am interested to hear other peoples opinions on the matter.