The largest UK survey of menopausal women suggests that action is required.
The Fawcett Society, a charity campaigning for gender equality and women's rights, has published the results of a survey asking over 4000 women aged between 45 and 55 about their experiences of the menopause at work. The survey was commissioned by Channel 4 for use in the recent documentary presented by Davina McCall. The results reflect the findings of earlier studies including those by the Women and Equalities Committee and within the financial services sector, with women going through the menopause struggling with lack of support.
Eighty percent of respondents to the survey said that their workplace had no basic support in place for menopausal women in the form of information sharing, absence policies or support networks. Ten percent reported leaving a job due to their symptoms, with forty four percent indicating their ability to do their job had been affected. This is perhaps not surprising given the most commonly reported symptoms were difficulty sleeping, brain fog and anxiety and depression, all of which can detrimentally impact on performance at work.
Added to these difficulties are concerns about workplace culture when it comes to dealing with the menopause with over two fifths of respondents saying the menopause was treated as a joke by colleagues.
The Fawcett Society has called for legislative reform to address this issue, suggesting that "dual discrimination" - which is included in the Equality Act 2010 but has never been implemented - could be used to allow women to bring claims based on both sex and age. Alternatively, a standalone menopause provision could be introduced. Flexible working and gender pay gap plans that highlight how supporting menopausal women would contribute to closing the gender pay gap were also recommended.
Our recent Essential Employment Law Webinar looked, amongst other things, at what employers should be doing around menopause in the workplace and a recording of it can be found here.
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