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Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

Burgess Mee becomes first ‘fertility friendly’ employer in UK 

Burgess Mee becomes first ‘fertility friendly’ employer in UK 


The firm was praised for its positive action in supporting staff with fertility wellbeing

Community interest company Fertility Matters at Work (FMAW) has announced London law firm Burgess Mee has become the first ‘Fertility Friendly’ employer in the UK. 

FMAW exists to educate and inspire businesses with an awareness of how fertility issues affect both employees and organisations. By becoming a FMAW member, organisations demonstrate commitment to becoming a Fertility Friendly workplace. 

Boutique firm Burgess Mee Family Law said it recognises fertility issues and fertility treatments, as well as baby loss, can be mentally, emotionally and physically draining. However, despite the significant impact on people’s personal and professional lives, all too often employees suffer in silence, fearful of broaching a ‘taboo’ subject and jeopardising their career progression.

The firm undertook FMAW’s training and accreditation process to ensure current and future employees feel empowered to discuss family-building plans, and not feel worried or ashamed about sharing fertility struggles they may face.  

Burgess Mee was the first organisation in the UK to appoint a Fertility Officer to support employees experiencing fertility struggles. Natalie Sutherland, a partner specialising in fertility and surrogacy law and head of the firm’s Modern Families Department, was appointed to the role late last year, and the firm subsequently introduced a fertility policy, miscarriage and baby loss policy, and fertility benefits policy across the firm. 

As Fertility Officer, Natalie offers staff who are experiencing fertility struggles practical and emotional support on a confidential basis – from helping to rearrange work diaries for medical appointments and finding staff to cover meetings to offering advice, facilitating introductions to fertility experts, or simply providing a sympathetic ear. It has been fully embraced by staff who have benefited and might otherwise have suffered in silence. 

FMAW’s accreditation panel commended Burgess Mee for being a “trailblazing organisation when it comes to wellbeing and fertility”, with Natalie Sutherland leading the way in “driving not only internal support and awareness, but external awareness too, inspiring other organisations to follow suit”.

Burgess Mee was praised for providing clear, well thought through policies and guidance, that signals fertility is a topic that is recognised and supported, which has had a huge positive impact on employees. 

Sutherland commented: “Burgess Mee is delighted to have gained accreditation as the UK's first Fertility Friendly employer. Fertility Matters At Work's training course is both thought-provoking and informative, containing essential insights into what it means to face fertility issues while trying to hold down a demanding job.

 "If infertility has never touched you, understandably, you may have no idea of the many ways it can impact a person’s working life. But given that infertility affects so many people, it’s likely that at least someone in your organisation is suffering in silence and not seeking help.

"By undertaking this training, you’re putting your organisation at the forefront of these issues and acting rather than reacting. This is massively important to engender trust with employees. I have no doubt that gaining Fertility Friendly status will help organisations to attract and retain staff and ultimately boost the bottom line."

Becky Kearns, co-Founder of FMAW, commented: “We’re currently on the lookout for the first 100 businesses to commit to becoming Fertility Friendly, and we already have an impressive number of leading British businesses involved. To be able to announce the UK’s first Fertility Friendly organisation is so exciting and something we’re really proud to have achieved with Burgess Mee.” 

Further information on becoming a 'fertility friendly' workplace can be found here