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Menopause and the workplace

18 October 2023

Menopause and the workplace continues to be at the forefront of conversation for many businesses.

The structure of the workplace has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. Women between the ages of 40 and 55 were the fastest growing demographic in the workplace, according to the NHS last year. In 2022, one in six workers were women aged 50 or over – many of them at a senior level.

In recent years, menopause has been getting increased media coverage and, back in October 2021, was debated in the House of Commons. Employment tribunals are also seeing a growing number of cases of unfair dismissal and sex and age discrimination claims brought by employees experiencing menopausal symptoms, who have suffered poor treatment by their employers.

Women undergoing the menopause or perimenopause can experience a wide range of symptoms, including: insomnia, headaches, anxiety, ‘brain fog’ and palpitations. Some women experience very mild symptoms, but for many the symptoms are more severe and can make working life challenging.

According to a new survey carried out by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) and published earlier this month, two-thirds of women – usually aged between the ages of 40 and 60 – with experience of menopausal symptoms say that they have had a mostly negative effect on them at work. Furthermore, around one in six respondents have considered leaving work due to a lack of support in relation to their menopause symptoms, and a further 6% have left work for the same reason.

Many businesses have already gone a long way towards creating a more flexible and inclusive working environment, which isn’t surprising when more than 80% of employers believe menopause support is important at the workplace, according to a new survey from experts, Acas.

Addressing issues that can arise for menopausal women is a next logical step on the way to creating a modern organisation that values female staff at the peak of their careers, which often coincides with menopause. Offering flexible working hours, the option to work from home or even a different workplace set-up can provide solutions to the problems caused by the menopause.

The best way to start to address the issues is to normalise menopause as a topic of consideration and discussion, which will help to create an inclusive working environment for employees at every stage of their working lives. Starting an open conversation about menopause and putting in place an effective menopause policy is the best way to engage employees and maintain their wellbeing and growth.

Pre-empting the inevitable future developments of the law surrounding menopause can be cost effective in the long term in respect of hiring costs, and unnecessary tribunal costs, but it can also help you to maintain a strong and successful workforce, enabling you to get the most of out of your employees.

If you are considering putting a menopause policy in place within your organisation, our employment team can help.

Last year, our team of highly rated experts hosted a free webinar to cover policies and procedures employers should consider to effectively support colleagues going through the menopause. This is still available on catch up.

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Our Legal 500-rated employment law team are experts in guiding businesses of all sizes and backgrounds through a range of issues that may arise.

Disclaimer: All legal information is correct at the time of publication but please be aware that laws may change over time. This article contains general legal information but should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please seek professional legal advice about your specific situation - contact us; we’d be delighted to help.
Jenny Hawrot LLB (Hons)
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Jenny Hawrot
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