Menopause and the Workplace
Over 120 local women contributed to our powerful new report ‘My stress levels are through the roof: Menopause and the Workplace Report’, which was published at the beginning of World Menopause Month on 1st October. We found that around 80% of women experience noticeable menopausal symptoms, which range from migraines, hot flushes and anxiety, yet only 9.3% of women who completed our survey felt supported in the workplace while going through the menopause.
Women can be at the ‘peak’ of their careers when menopausal symptoms start, yet even though menopausal women are protected by The Equality Act (2010) and the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), 1 in 4 women feel unable to continue working due to the symptoms they experience. Feeling pushed out of the workplace can cause considerable damage to women’s mental health and wellbeing, as well as have serious financial implications, including impacts on future pension contributions.
Office workers during the pandemic
The pandemic has impacted most women’s work in some way. Office workers who are now working from home mostly reported the positive benefits from their new set-up. Benefits included easier temperature control and access to toilets, a better diet and more flexible breaks. However some women reported issues with extreme isolation and difficulties with brain fog. We hope that employers will offer flexible working to menopausal women in the long term.
Key workers during the pandemic
A large number of key workers reported that current designs of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) make their jobs almost impossible when experiencing menopausal symptoms, due to overheating. We recommend that PPE is urgently redesigned to suit women experiencing the menopause. This is particularly important considering the majority of key workers are women and 78% of key workers working healthcare are women. Toilet closures have also impacted some women working as key workers during the pandemic; we recommend that all toilets are re-opened urgently.
Women reported feeling unable to reach out for support from their GPs during the pandemic, or that they have been unable to get appointments at specialist clinics. This has left women feeling desperate and unable to access the correct dosage of Hormone Replacement Therapy.
What needs to happen
Our focus group participants identified a toxic culture of ageism and sexism in many workplaces, which cause menopause to be a ‘taboo’ topic and stops many women from feeling able to get support from their line managers. We believe that all workplaces should be legally obliged to create and implement a specialist Menopause Policy and should train all line managers in supporting menopausal colleagues as a matter of urgency. Less than 10% of women’s workplaces have menopause policies, but the majority of women reported that their employers are interested in developing menopause policies in the near future. This indicates that there’s ample opportunity to develop projects that support workplaces to positively shift their internal cultures and HR practises in relation to menopause.
Women also reported that “Menopause Cafes”, or equivalent peer-support groups, have helped to combat isolation, misinformation and improved women’s mental health at work. Many women said they needed more opportunities to learn about how to manage and understand menopausal symptoms. We would recommend that workplaces consider supporting women to set-up peer support groups.
How to get involved
Please share the report with your networks! We want to reach as many women and employers as possible to offer support and make a change. We’ve created a new ‘Menopause and the Workplace’ section on our website where we’ve split the report into sections for employers, employees and supportive resources.
Follow us on social media. We’re also running a #MenopauseMonth social media campaign throughout October as part of WHO’s World Menopause Month. Please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn and share the menopause posts.
For further information, please email our Policy and Influencing Officer; [email protected]