Women’s Health Strategy for England – 10 Year Action Plan
The government has published a policy paper – Women’s Health Strategy for England – which contains a 10 year action plan to raise awareness of female specific health issues and tackle gender health inequality.
This is the first women’s health strategy of its kind which sets out key commitments to research, improving fertility services and access to contraception, better maternity support and improved female mental health services.
The publication of the policy paper follows a survey in which 100,000 women participated and responses on workplace specific issues showed that only around 1 in 3 women felt comfortable talking about health issues in their workplace (35%). Of those who said a health condition or disability had impacted their experience in the workplace (62%), more than 3 in 4 said it had increased their stress levels (76%) and 2 in 3 said it had impacted their mental health (67%).
The results also showed that:
- 26% of women said health issues had impacted their earnings
- 25% of women said health issues had affected their opportunities for promotion
- 22% of women said health issues meant they stopped work earlier than they had planned
Suggestions by participants to encourage employers to support women’s health in the workplace included:
- promotion of flexible working arrangements and access to occupational health services to enable women to better manage their health needs and communicate this to their managers
- policies to better support women in work, such as paid leave and counselling for miscarriage and baby loss, and reasonable adjustments for women who are going through the menopause, or living with painful gynaecological conditions
- better support for women seeking to re-enter the workplace or progress their careers after maternity leave, and while living with or recovering from female health conditions
Government objectives under the strategy for women’s health in the workplace include:
- Women feeling able to speak openly about their health and to be confident that they will be supported by their employer and colleagues.
- Women’s work colleagues feeling better equipped to support them by the provision of information and awareness.
- Employers feeling better equipped to support female employees and implementing national policy and best practice. These include a culture of flexible working, workplace policies for issues such as menopause and provision of workplace support including high-quality occupational health services to assist those managing long-term conditions.
- Employees and carers’ colleagues being better informed about the potential impact caring responsibilities have on carers’ lives, and carers feeling better supported to manage their work, caring responsibilities and other aspects of their lives.
Further details on the Strategy can be found here.
If you want to discuss this article or require assistance with how better to support your female employees please contact Melanie Morton or your usual Freeths contact.
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