Women in 'vicious cycle' as survey suggests many workplaces have no menopause policy
Commentators urge employers to act now, saying poor provision and support is hitting staff retention and productivity.
Half of women (50 per cent) aged 45 and over say their workplace does not have a menopause policy, while 40 per cent have ‘no clue’ if theirs does, a whitepaper by research group Perspectus has found.
In the report, Pause for Thought: Reflecting on Menopause in the Workplace, only one in 10 said that their work has a definitive menopause policy, while almost half of women (47 per cent) do not feel supported by their workplace during menopause.
The research, which was carried out on 2,000 women and men of various working ages – including 304 working women aged over 45 – explores the varying impact menopause can have on women in the workplace.
It found that one in 20 women over the age of 45 have had symptoms – which can include brain fog, memory loss, tiredness and irritability – which had caused them major difficulties at work, while one in 10 have had symptoms that resulted in moderate difficulties and 27 per cent had slight issues.
Kathy Abernethy, a menopause specialist nurse and founding member of the British Menopause Society, told People Management employers not supporting workers through the menopause was not only a workplace issue, but a health issue. “For some women, menopause symptoms are impossible to ignore. They can cause difficulties at work and, similarly, the pressures of work can cause menopause symptoms to worsen,” she said.
“Women can find themselves caught up in a vicious cycle – and employers would do well to lend a hand in breaking it because it has tangible effects on staff retention, workflows, productivity and overall sense of employee wellbeing.”
The report found just 37 per cent of managers had been offered training around menopause, and a lack of understanding from managers over menopause symptoms was leading to “unacceptable responses” from bosses.
Almost three in 10 (27 per cent) managers admitted they were shocked when confronted with people suffering menopause symptoms and a quarter (25 per cent) did not know what to do.
Moreover, 16 per cent thought they were being lied to, to “excuse bad work”, 9 per cent felt the “complainant was making a fuss about nothing” and 8 per cent ignored them.
This may be creating a negative cycle, the report argued, as half (49 per cent) of women aged 45 and over said they did not feel comfortable talking to a line manager about menopausal symptoms.
In January, MPs rejected recommendations made by the Women and Equalities Committee to introduce menopause leave, and MPs also dismissed a recommendation to include menopause as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. But the report found 63 per cent of workers now believe that menopause should now be included under the Act.
Meanwhile, a separate survey of 20,000 women by health app Peppy found three quarters (75 per cent) of women had considered quitting their jobs or reducing their hours because of a lack of menopause support, while 70 per cent felt their work was negatively affected by menopause symptoms.
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