I was on a course of IVF and recently booked a day for my (successful) egg implant

28th September 2007 at 01:00
I was on a course of IVF and recently booked a day for my (successful) egg implant. All other visits coincided with holidays but this one was unavoidable. I wasn't paid for the day despite being granted leave of absence. I was not informed at the time that this visit was without pay. Is it allowed?

A) This is down to the interpretation of your contractual position. There are absences which clearly qualify for paid leave, such as sickness and compassionate leave; some that clearly do not, such as shopping, and others, like yours, where it might be discretionary. While you might not have a right to paid leave in these circumstances, it still might be worth pursuing the matter. Query, in writing, the grounds on which your pay was docked. This gives you the opportunity to respond and make a case. Who knows, even if there is no precedent, you could become one. Margaret, East Sussex

A) As I understand it, employers are within their rights to treat any time taken for IVF treatment as unpaid leave. It's not family-friendly, but it's not discriminatory (assuming that a man would be treated similarly). I think you just have to accept this is the reality of the situation. The irony is, of course, that had you taken the day and phoned in with a "bad back", you would have had no problem. Your case is an illustration, I am afraid, of honesty not always being the best policy. Mal, Ebbw Vale

A) As if it isn't tough enough going through the whole IVF process, you now find yourself docked a day's pay. This might be one to refer to your union representative. Even though there may be no explicit statutory entitlement to paid sick leave in these circumstances, there is a chance that the union can suggest some sort of sex discrimination (dubious but worth a try), which, in my experience, concentrates the mind of managers in a big way.

Graham, Crowborough

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