Workplaces are losing skilled and talented workers by failing to support women through menopause.
A report from a committee of MPs says menopause should be a protected characteristic under the Equality Act.
The report found the main reasons that women experiencing menopause gave for leaving the workplace included stigma, lack of support and discrimination.
The Women and Equalities Committee’s (WEC) Menopause and the Workplace report was published at the end of July.
Problems in the workplace
The report highlights that neither the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) nor the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) provides any advice on menopause on its website, and that should be rectified.
The findings, from a cross-party committee of MPs, stated that the lack of support was forcing “highly skilled and experienced” workers out of the labour market, and the country was “haemorrhaging talent” as a result.
The report has also recommended that a special ambassador should be appointed to support women in the workplace.
Ambassador to make recommendations
The Menopause Ambassador will model menopause policies such as how to request reasonable adjustments and other support; advice on flexible working; sick leave for menopause symptoms; and provisions for education, training and building a supportive culture.
The person would also be tasked with working closely with unions and other stakeholders.
According to the independent Nuffield Health group:
- Approximately 13 million women in the UK are either peri- or post-menopausal
- Symptoms can last up to 15 years
- Over 60 per cent of women experience symptoms resulting in behaviour changes
- One in four women will experience severe debilitating symptoms
- Almost half of menopausal women say they feel depressed.
How can employers help?
There are a number of ways to make life more comfortable, which could include:
- Being flexible with breaks and allowing them to be taken where needed, rather than stick to a schedule
- Making sure the workplace is well ventilated and comfortable with access to fans
- Ensuring cold water is available
- Providing easy access to washing and toilet facilities
- Where possible, putting limits on the amount of time personal protective equipment is worn.
Caroline Nokes, chair of the WEC, said: “Menopausal women have been mocked and maligned for too long. It is time that the Government seizes the opportunity to enact change. It is time to support, and celebrate, these women.”
For help and advice on menopause support and related employment matters, call our team today.