How Ignoring Women's Health At Workplace Is Costing The United Kingdom

By Azeezat Okunlola | Oct 26, 2023

According to economic modelling by AXA Health and CEBR, the UK economy could be losing £20.2 billion annually as a result of disregarding women's health at work.

According to estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), women made up 58.4 per cent of the economically inactive population in the United Kingdom in 2022.

According to the previously cited report by AXA Health and Co., nearly a third (29 per cent) of women felt that their employers weren't supportive, even though 68 per cent of women report having dealt with health difficulties like endometriosis, fertility, menopause, and periods at some point in their careers. 

Over half were forced to take time off of work, nearly a quarter claim they missed out on a promotion, and one in five accepted reduced pay as a result, all of which hurt the economy as a whole.

Nevertheless, despite the implications for the productivity, well-being, and contentment of nearly half of the UK workforce, few businesses give the necessary attention to the health of their female employees.

Adele Johnston, the founder of The Menopause Coach, spoke with City A.M. about how her former employer refused to temporarily cut her hours so that she could start hormone replacement treatment after learning she was perimenopausal at the age of 37.

She said: “Surprisingly, despite the senior management team being predominantly female, my request was turned down, and a demotion was intimated as the only path to continuing my career at that time.”

This problem has also had a significant influence on women's mental health and wellness, with 90 per cent of them experiencing emotional issues, 46 per cent feeling helpless, and 43 per cent feeling less inspired at work.

“As this report finds, neglecting the health of women in our workplaces isn’t just a matter of compassion; it’s a serious economic oversight,” said Flick Drummond MP, who is serving as the co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women and Work.

Dr Pallavi Bradshaw, deputy chief medical officer at AXA Health, added: “While companies certainly still have a way to go in addressing women’s health at work, there is promise in the increased willingness of women to discuss their health concerns with colleagues and managers.

“For example, our women’s health report found that 60 per cent of women who talked about their health found their employers to be supportive, whether this be through time off, offering counselling or making adaptations to the workplace.

“These developments are positive, but as we delve further into the findings, it becomes evident that concerns extend beyond just health issues. A striking 53 per cent of the women we surveyed voiced that, within their workplaces, women often shoulder more unplanned responsibilities – such as caring for loved ones – than their male counterparts.

“Furthermore, when reflecting on their own families, 39 per cent of respondents revealed that they bear a greater burden than male family members when it came to unexpected caring responsibilities. This gender-based imbalance in unpaid labour not only perpetuates inequality but also places women at risk of being sidelined in their careers, overlooked for promotions, or compelled to work beneath their true potential.”

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