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An invisible cohort: Why are workplaces failing women going through menopause?

23 July 2021

Almost a million women in the UK have left jobs as a result of menopausal symptoms. With menopause mainly affecting those in their late 40s and early 50s, this leads to women eligible for senior management roles leaving work at the peak of their career, with knock-on effects on workplace productivity, the gender pay-gap and the gender pension gap. Today, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee launches a new inquiry, scrutinising existing legislation and workplace practices, and asking if enough is being done to address the issue.

Existing legislation protects people from discrimination based on sex, age and disability, but several calls have been made for further measures, including a workplace menopause policy. With the Government currently developing its Women's Health Strategy, MPs on the cross-party Committee will present their findings and recommendations with a view to shaping policies redressing gender equality.

Chair's comment

Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP, said:

"Three in every five women are negatively affected at work as a result of the menopause. The repercussions of that are not merely individual. Excluding menopausal women from the workplace is detrimental to our economy, our society and our place on the world stage.

"Despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of women in the UK are currently going through the menopause- a process that can be both physically and mentally draining- it is ignored in legislation. It is time to uncover and address this huge issue, which has been left near-invisible for far too long."

The Committee is seeking written submissions addressing any or all of the following topics: 

  • What is the nature and the extent of discrimination faced by women experiencing the menopause?
    • How does this impact wider society?
  • What is the economic impact of menopause discrimination?
  • How can businesses factor in the needs of employees going through the menopause?
  • How can practices addressing workplace discrimination relating to menopause be implemented? For example, through guidance, advice, adjustments, or enforcement.
    • What are examples of best or most inclusive practices?
  • How should people who experience the menopause but do not identify as women be supported in relation to menopause and the workplace?
  • How well does current legislation protect women from discrimination in the workplace associated with the menopause?
    • Should current legislation be amended?
    • What further legislation is required to enable employers to put in place a workplace menopause policy to protect people going through the menopause whilst at work?
  • How effective has Government action been at addressing workplace discrimination related to the menopause, and what more can the Government do to address this issue?

How effectively is the Government Equalities Office working across Government to embed a strategic approach to addressing the impact of menopause in the workplace?

Further information 

Image: Unsplash