UK Women’s Health Strategy: What do you need to know as an employer?

UK government is working with businesses to change the status quo on women’s health

Author Name:Nelli Morgulchik BA MRes

In March 2021, a monumental act happened for women’s health in the UK – the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) launched a call for evidence to inform the government-led Women’s Health Strategy.

While the government continues to formulate the strategy with the help of key opinion leaders such as Hertility Health, the survey results were published before Christmas with opinions and experiences from more than 60,000 working women in the UK on health in the workplace.

What did the survey results show?

  • Only 1 in 3 feel comfortable talking about health issues in the workplace
  • Only half felt that their employers were supportive with regards to health issues
  • 3 in 5 felt that their health condition impacted their experience at work
  • 25% also raised concerns that these issues had a negative impact on their earnings and opportunities for promotion
  • Workplace health policies, such as paid leave for fertility treatment, better menstrual health products at their workplaces and flexible working policies for women with reproductive health conditions, were highlighted as most important and currently lacking to the survey participants

What can you do as an employer?

The call for evidence showed that more can be done as at least 25% of women are concerned about their health impacting their career prospects and 66% do not feel comfortable discussing their health at work.

These are the essentials that Hertility recommends you implement at your workplace as an employer:

1. Advocate for better women’s health services. The women’s health movement is only as powerful as its members and the more companies publicly speak about its importance and pledge their support to their female employees, the faster the change will happen across the board!

2. Encourage open discussion of women’s health issues. Create a supportive atmosphere at work to help break taboos, reduce stigma, and raise awareness in the workplace. This can include educational seminars and ‘lunch and learn’ sessions about reproductive health and fertility.

3. Adopt inclusive policies for women. Your policies should take into account experiences that are extremely common but currently overlooked by many workplace such as menstrual symptoms, infertility and menopause. They may include flexible working, paid leave for fertility treatment, miscarriage and pregnancy loss policies, career coaching.

4. Expand employee benefits package to cover reproductive health. Hertility Health offers a range of corporate plans and coverage options to suit your needs, from educational workshops, to female health assessments and consultations with in-house experts. For early adopters that have existing fertility treatment benefits for employees, we help you protect that budget – our proactive hormone tests are a fraction of the clinic price and by identifying issues early we can prevent costly treatment. Where treatment is required, our blood tests are accepted by partner clinics and reduce time to treatment. 

2022 and beyond – what policies to expect? 

We don’t yet know what policy changes may come from these conversations but it is important to look ahead of any legislation introduced. Hertility Employee Benefits Team believes that the following policy changes are most likely to come to pass in the next few years:

  • Expanding baby loss policy to cover women and their partners before 24 weeks of pregnancy. In April 2020, the UK introduced paid parental leave for baby loss after 24 weeks. However, MP Angela Crawley is advocating to provide leave for pregnancy losses at any point giving parents the right to take three days of paid leave, following in New Zealand’s footsteps.
  • Bringing menopause policy into law. Many leading employers have introduced menopause policies at their workplaces since 2019, but MP Carolyn Harris has been calling to implement this policy at the legislation level as a requirement for every workplace.

As a conscious employer, you should be proactive about your employees’ well being rather than waiting for the government to pass legislation. To get ahead of the curve, reach out to [email protected], or visit our website.