Women’s health concerns are varied — from those with highly visible awareness campaigns such breast cancer to reproductive health and parenting — as well as the issues that affect everyone regardless of gender, such as exercise, nutrition and mental wellbeing.
Remember that not all women are alike, and that different groups of women in your workplace will have different needs and health, wellbeing and social issues.
- Provide easy access to useful information (such as posters and brochures), so women can find out contacts for services on their own, or through talking to a key worker or health and safety representative. See Resources below.
- Look for opportunities to bring specific health services to your workplace. This can help rasie awareness and make it easier for women who need to see a health professional.
- Use Women’s Health Week (external link) to hold events and promote health issues and services.
The Australian Government estimates that women with endometriosis can lose up to 11 hours a week of workplace productivity to the condition. With at least 1 in 10 women of reproductive age in Australia suffering from endometriosis, it is important that this large part of the Australian workforce is supported in the workplace. The Australian Government said these workers should feel understood, supported and comfortable to discuss their common chronic condition with their employer, and seek the support they need in order to embark upon or continue a productive and rewarding career.
In general, a healthy woman with an uncomplicated pregnancy may continue to work with minimal interruption throughout her pregnancy.
If you think you’re being exposed to something at work that will impact on the health of your pregnancy, you need to talk to your manager, human resources department or union representative.
Potential risks include:
- exposure to chemicals and materials
- excessive travel
- shift work
- heavy lifting
- physically exhausting work
- work that is mentally fatiguing
You might need to tell your employer you are pregnant earlier than you want to, so you can make sure your workplace is safe. You will be able to do this confidentially.
Your employer will need to do a new risk assessment for your job which takes into consideration your pregnancy:
- raise any concerns you have about your work conditions with your employer
- the tasks and activities you are performing might need to be reassessed as the pregnancy progresses.
- the risk assessment needs to be repeated at different stages of your pregnancy or if your work changes. What may not be a risk early on might become a risk later in pregnancy.
Women aged 45–55 (when menopause typically happens) represent an increasing portion of our workforce. Just under 80% of women of this age were in paid employment, including 1 million women working in healthcare, education and retail, the three biggest employers of women in Australia (source: Menopause at work, external link). So chances are there’s someone in your workplace who could be experiencing peri-menopause or menopause and their symptoms.
Support can start with providing an empathetic ear: that is all some women may want. Others may ask for more practical support, and some reasonable adjustments you might make to your work practices, conditions, environment might include:
- allowing them to re-locate to a part of the workplace where temperatures can be controlled locally
- allowing them to working from home
- ensuring uniforms are made of breathable fabrics.
If you’ve made changes, check in to see whether these are working well to support women’s experiences of managing symptoms at work.
For more guidance, read our Workplace Issues article on supporting menopausal women in your workplace and see resources below.