The government has introduced a new grant to ensure there is available support for women experiencing menopause, fertility problems, miscarriage and pregnancy loss, menstrual health and gynaecological conditions in the workplace. The grant will help support remaining in or returning to the workplace for these women by a multi-million-pound funding boost to Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations.

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The government is committed to levelling up health disparities and recognising the need to better support women’s health in the workplace. Grants of between £200,000 to £600,000 per applicant will be available over the next 3 years to expand and develop projects or programmes in these areas.

The funding will support projects and programmes working with communities to provide training for SMEs, where internal support in the workplace is unlikely to be available, and supporting individuals by signposting them to clinical services and helping them address personal and workplace barriers - to improve their overall wellbeing.

There are strong links between health and employment, with evidence showing work is good for physical and mental wellbeing. Higher life expectancy is also strongly correlated with higher employment rates, and the most deprived local areas experience the worst health and employment outcomes. This is why it is vital to ensure that the workplace becomes somewhere where employees can feel supported in their physical and mental wellbeing. 

If women are made to feel as if they cannot access the correct support for their reproductive wellbeing in the workplace, it could lead to an increase in time off work, or decisions to leave the workplace entirely, - and moving from employment to unemployment is estimated to increase GP consultation rates by 50% due to its impact on people’s health. This is why it is becoming increasingly more important to have support in place for all aspects of health and wellbeing in the workplace. Supporting people in work not only helps them more as individuals but will reduce the pressure on the NHS, and allow businesses to stay afloat - whilst protecting their employees along the way. 

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Millions of women work across the country and all employers should have plans to ensure the right support is in place for women experiencing reproductive issues and the menopause.

“I’m committed to levelling up women’s health and reducing disparities, not only through today’s funding but more widely through our ground-breaking Women’s Health Strategy, urgently tackling HRT supply issues and my intention to sign the Menopause Workforce Pledge to support civil servants experiencing the menopause at work. 

Minister for Women’s Health Maria Caulfield said: “Women’s health should not impact their employment opportunities. This grant funding will ensure the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector is able to better support women who are experiencing reproductive health issues to remain in or return to the workplace.

“We’re levelling up women’s health through this fund alongside our pledge to support women experiencing the menopause in the Civil Service, tackling current HRT supply issues and our upcoming Women’s Health Strategy.”

Building on the government’s ambitions in the Women’s Health Vision to help women in the workplace to reach their full potential, the grant fund aims to ensure:

  • women feel supported in the workplace

  • taboos are broken down through open conversation

  • employers feel well equipped to support women in managing their health within the workplace.

Prof Geeta Nargund, co-founder of the Ginsburg Women’s Health Board, senior NHS consultant and medical director at CREATE Fertility, said: “The government’s grant funding for workplace support of women’s reproductive health is a very welcome step. It is vital that women have access to the support and protection they need with their reproductive health in their places of work if we are to tackle the gender health gap – through this grant, the government will be able to help employers in achieving this.

“While the grant is currently focused on the VCSE sector, my hope is that it could prove a useful blueprint for expanding workplace reproductive support to all sectors.”

The important details:

The application portal for the VCSE grant fund is open from now until Friday 5th August.

The aim of the Health and Wellbeing Fund is to promote equalities and reduce health inequalities by building the evidence base on good practice, sharing lessons, and widening the adoption of interventions with a proven track record. The Health and Wellbeing Fund focuses on one specific theme each year, which is agreed upon across the system partners and in co-production with the VCSE sect