Now is the time to increase support for women in the workplace as over 1M could quit their jobs, says Healix

With recent research finding that over one million women in the UK could quit their jobs because of lack of menopause support from their employers, it is clear that this issue needs to move up the business agenda, along with other women’s health issues such as pelvic floor dysfunction, fertility issues and pain due to fibroids or endometriosis.

Women make up an increasing proportion of the working population. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), nearly 72% of women aged between 16 and 64 were in work in 2021, up from 65% in 2011. As a result, supporting women to help them remain in the workforce is vital.

In light of this, Healix has identified three ways employers can better support their female employees’ healthcare needs:

  1. Healthcare Trusts

Female employees would be much more at ease if they knew that they had access to excellent female-focused health advice throughout their working life. Yet, menopause and many other women’s health conditions are not usually covered as part of traditional private medical insurance (PMI) policies. Providing employee healthcare support through a healthcare trust offers employers greater flexibility in tailoring their health services to individual needs. Women would also directly benefit by being able to receive advice and guidance on all aspects of female health, including contraceptive and fertility advice, and efficient and timely treatment for female health conditions such as endometriosis.

  1. 24/7 GP helpline

On top of providing excellent healthcare advice, being able to access that advice wherever and whenever suits them is key for staff wellbeing. A 24/7 GP helpline, both online and over the phone, would allow them to receive immediate advice and support for any female health concerns as and when they arise. This means that no issue is left untreated because of longer waiting times caused by the pandemic. Such 24/7 GP services often include help with conditions which are usually excluded from any cover provided by private healthcare schemes, such as menopause or contraception.

  1. Ending the stigma

None of the above changes will make any real difference in practice, as long as the stigma remains surrounding menopause and other health conditions that impair female employees’ ability to fully focus at work. Many women still feel unable to discuss their physical issues with their employers, especially when it comes to talking about gynaecological conditions with a male manager, resulting in their work performance – and most importantly, their mental wellbeing – suffering.

It is the employers’ responsibility to be proactive in normalising these conversations by implementing clear policies for all health conditions. They should also provide clear access to relevant information for their female employees to freely tap into as and when they need to. In this way, employees will feel much more comfortable to reach out for help before an issue takes hold.

Sally Campbell, Head of Clinical Development at Healix, comments:

The recent headlines about women leaving the workforce because of insufficient support during menopause highlights the need for female specific healthcare provisions. Women make up half the workforce, so it is imperative that workplaces offer comprehensive services tailored to them, including GP support and appropriate treatment for various conditions.

Healix’s commitment to providing flexible and bespoke healthcare support for employees led to us launching our Women’s Health offering in 2021, which was eagerly adopted by three quarters of clients in its first seven months. This allowed thousands of women to receive support for their health who may not have done so otherwise. So much attention is given to gender equality and bridging the gender pay gap, and rightly so, but we also need to think about how we keep women in work. Fundamental to that is how we treat them – we need to cater for their needs in a work environment that has historically been designed for men.

As awareness of this important issue grows, we hope 2022 will be the year that employers take action.”