Conversations on feminism, gender equality and discrimination are often in the spotlight, yet talking about periods and the menopause has long remained taboo.
But the approach to ‘the change’ is finally changing…
Thanks to awareness events like World Menopause Day and the current parliamentary inquiry into the need for new workplace policies, the subject is finally being taken seriously. But what does that mean for employers?
Creating a new workplace menopause policy
It means that, whatever the outcome of the parliamentary inquiry, you should put a menopause policy in place in your business now.
Don’t worry—we’ll tell you exactly how to do that.
But first, let’s take things back to basics to help you understand why this is such an important workplace issue.
What is the menopause?
The menopause is a natural part of the female life cycle, as their oestrogen levels decline and they stop having periods.
The age at which this happens varies, but it’s typically between the ages of 45 and 55. In the UK, the average age a woman reaches menopause is 51. However, around one in 100 women experience the menopause before 40.
The length of the menopause also varies. Menopausal symptoms usually last about four years, but around one in 10 women experience them for up to 12 years.
Who is affected?
Over 80% of menopausal women experience symptoms. But remember, the menopause can also affect people in the trans community.
A transgender man (those who identify as male, but were assigned female at birth) or an AFAB non-binary person (who do not identify as a particular gender, but were assigned female at birth) will experience a natural menopause if their ovaries remain in place and they aren’t given hormone therapy.
A transgender woman (those who identify as female but were assigned male at birth) might also experience menopausal symptoms as a result of hormone therapy.
What are the symptoms?
Over 80% of people going through the menopause experience symptoms. The most common ones include:
• Hot flushes
• Night sweats
• Difficulty sleeping
• Problems with memory and concentration
• Joint stiffness and pain
How does the menopause affect the workplace?
Regularly experiencing the symptoms listed above will naturally impact an employee’s attendance and productivity.
One report found that 94% of people who’d been through the menopause said it had negatively impacted their work. Just over 50% had taken time off sick, and 10% had missed more than eight weeks of work because of their symptoms.
The effect on our economy and society
Improper menopausal support affects much more than just the individual and their business—it also impacts our wider economy and society.
• Almost one million women in the UK have left jobs as a result of menopausal symptoms.
• The menopause mainly affects those in their late 40s and 50s, so we often see women eligible for senior management roles leaving work at the peak of their careers.
• This leads to knock-on effects on workplace productivity, the gender pay gap, and the gender pension gap.
The current parliamentary inquiry
A parliamentary inquiry into the workplace treatment of women going through the menopause is currently underway. It’s looking into:
- How well current legislation protects women from discrimination.
- Whether they should amend the legislation.
- What further legislation is needed to make a workplace menopause policy mandatory.
Existing legislation protects people from discrimination based on sex, age, and disability. But people are calling for further measures, including a workplace menopause policy.
What does this mean for employers?
Regardless of the outcome of the parliamentary inquiry, attitudes towards the menopause have changed. So, it’s high time employers put a workplace menopause policy in place as quickly as possible.
But… where to start?
Well, right here—we’ve put together a FREE menopause policy template for you to use in your business.
Download it now and start protecting your people and your business straight away: