Menopause and the Workplace

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Menopause and the Workplace

Women and equalities committee
First Report of Session 2022–23

This report is what we have all been waiting for; recognition for menopausal women within the workplace, and the unfairness that we have faced. 
The report states as follows:

"A 2019 survey conducted by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that three in five menopausal women—usually aged between 45 and 55—were negatively affected at work.9 BUPA found that almost 900,000 women in the UK had left their jobs because of menopausal symptoms.

The Government should launch a consultation on how to amend the Equality Act to introduce a new protected characteristic of menopause, including a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for menopausal employees. This consultation should commence within six months of publication of this report. 

Menopause is a workplace issue. There is a legal, economic, and social imperative to address the needs of menopausal employees.

Employers who fail to support their menopausal employees, or act punitively towards them, leave themselves vulnerable to discrimination claims. 

It should issue employers with guidance encouraging them to grant any reasonable requests for flexible working, rather than placing the burden on the employee to justify their request.

What employees want their employers to do:

a) “Provide adjustments”;
respondents referred to a number of practical adjustments that would help them. These included:
• i) having fans at the desks
• ii) better ventilation
• iii) uniforms appropriate for menopause, for example made of breathable material
• iv) access to drinking water
• v) easy access to toilets and to washing facilities

b) “Have policies”;
respondents called for specific policies in their organisations that recognised the impact of menopause. Sickness policies were frequently mentioned, with respondents asking that absence policies not penalise those needing time off to deal with symptoms, or for menopause-related appointments.

c) “Provide flexibility”;
respondents called for flexibility in their working hours, as well as their place of work. Working from home was frequently mentioned.

d) “Education”;
respondents wanted to see a greater understanding of the menopause, and its impact, in the workplace. Many pointed to the need for managers to receive training.

e) “Support cultural changes”;
the removal of stigma and taboo relating to menopause was a repeated theme, as was a desire to move away from menopause being an acceptable topic for jokes or workplace ‘banter’. Respondents said they wanted to be able to feel like it was possible and safe to discuss menopause with their managers and colleagues. Respondents called for an ‘open space’ for women to talk about what they are going through and for a willingness of others in the workplace to listen to the lived experience of women experiencing menopause. A few respondents were concerned that the introduction of further workplace support could have the unintended consequence of further stigmatising women. Another major theme was ‘trust’; respondents wanted to feel like they (294 Women and Equalities Committee, Fourth Special Report of Session 2021–22, Menopause and the workplace survey results, HC 1157) were trusted to manage their work alongside menopause, without the fear of being disciplined or facing other negative consequences for being open about menopause or having to take time off.

f) “Develop support networks”;
respondents emphasised the importance of feeling supported in the workplace and knowing how to access that support. Respondents wanted a safe place for women to discuss, or seek support or advice for, what they are going through. Some respondents emphasised being able to speak to female colleagues; others wanted to be able to speak with managers and some sought the support of external professionals who understand menopause."

Source: House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee | First Report of Session 2022–23

Up to 1/3rd of women will experience menopausal symptoms during work that will impact not just their quality of work, but their confidence and management of time and stress, ultimately impacting their mental health.

Our founder, Meera Bhogal, has created a Menopause at Work programme, designed this programme to encourage employers to offer guidance and support to help those going through menopause to manage it better, without feeling embarrassed to disclose their current position. 

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