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UK loses 150 million working days due to lack of workplace support for women’s health

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UK loses 150 million working days due to lack of workplace support for women’s health
New campaign launched by Benenden Health – in partnership with the Fawcett Society and Cherry Healey – shines a light on the gender health gap in the UK in a bid to break down the barriers that lead to poorer health outcomes for women in the workplace

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Key findings:

  • The UK is losing 150 million working days each year (in accordance with ONS figures) due to poor women’s health and a lack of suitable support
  • Four in ten women (42%) have heard derogatory comments about a female employee’s health in the workplace
  • 42% of women are uncomfortable discussing their health issues with their manager
  • Two thirds of female employees have found it challenging dealing with periods at work (70%), 62% have struggled with pregnancy in the workplace and 64% have faced challenges when experiencing the menopause

Women are absent from work for nine days each year due to health-related concerns, exacerbated by a lack of supportive healthcare measures tailored for female employees.

This was only one of the findings of recent study conducted by Benenden Health, a provider of affordable healthcare, has shed light on the significant impact of health issues on women’s professional lives in the UK.

The study, which surveyed 5,000 female employees and 1,000 business owners, underscores a troubling workplace environment where derogatory comments about women’s health are not uncommon.

According to the findings, 42% of women have been subjected to negative remarks regarding their health, particularly comments criticizing their work ethic, capability, or the necessity of taking sick leave. This atmosphere of judgment has made nearly half of the women surveyed hesitant to discuss their health issues with their managers, fearing repercussions or misunderstanding.

However, the scenario changes dramatically when women have female managers, with the comfort level in discussing health issues soaring to 96%.

This stark contrast highlights the importance of empathy and understanding in managerial roles, suggesting that female leadership could be key to fostering a more inclusive and supportive work environment.

Benenden Health’s study also points to a significant gender health gap in the UK, which is the largest among G20 countries and ranks 12th globally. The survey identifies common challenges women face in the workplace, such as managing menstrual discomfort, pregnancy, and the menopause.

A majority of women reported difficulties in concealing pregnancies and dealing with the effects of menopause at work, indicating a broad lack of support and understanding.

Business owners themselves acknowledge the issue, with 60% believing that better support for women’s health could enhance productivity. This acknowledgment suggests a readiness within the business community to address the gender health gap, recognizing the link between employee well-being and overall business success.

Rebecca Mian, Head of Human Resources at Benenden Health, emphasized the need for increased awareness and understanding of women’s health issues among employers.

“Understanding and addressing women’s health concerns in the workplace is essential for creating stronger, more collaborative, and successful businesses,” she stated, highlighting the dual benefits of such initiatives for both employees and employers.

In an effort to bridge this gap, Benenden Health has teamed up with The Fawcett Society, a leading charity for gender equality and women’s rights.

Jemima Olchawski, Chief Executive at the Fawcett Society, stressed the importance of creating workplaces that accommodate women at every stage of life.

“It’s time for change,” Olchawski declared, pointing to the need for systemic reforms to address gender inequality and support better health outcomes for women.

This collaboration aims to raise awareness of the gender health gap and advocate for changes that ensure women receive the support and understanding they need to thrive in the workplace. By highlighting these challenges, Benenden Health and The Fawcett Society are working towards a more equitable and healthy professional environment for all women in the UK.

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