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More than 1 million women feel under pressure to leave their job

Story by
Alex Crowther, Senior Reporter, The HR World

Women going through menopause don't tell their boss

70% of women going through menopause who needed to take time off work didn’t inform their boss why.

New research shows that more than one million women are under pressure to leave their jobs due to menopause symptoms.

Nearly three-quarters of women (73%) experiencing menopause do not feel able to talk openly about their symptoms with colleagues.

As a result, 70% of women experiencing menopause who needed to take time off as a result of their symptoms did not tell their employer the real reason they needed to take time off.

This new research of 2,000 women currently experiencing menopause symptoms across the UK, commissioned by childcare service Koru Kids, reveals that this lack of support is having a direct impact on women’s decisions to leave the workplace.

A quarter of women (24%) that are experiencing menopause symptoms are unhappy in their jobs because of a lack of support, with 63% saying that their place of work has not introduced any kind of policy to make things easier for anyone experiencing menopause symptoms.

Rachel Carrell, the founder of Koru Kids, said:

Women should never be pushed out of the workplace because of their biology.

“Menopause is a natural part of women’s life course, and shouldn’t mean the end of their career.

“As a society, we need to support older women with flexible working and health support so they don’t fall out of the workplace needlessly.”

The research also found that menopause ranks second in the list of what has impacted women’s careers to date, behind having children.

The research from Koru Kids comes ahead of a session in the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee which will hear evidence on Wednesday afternoon regarding how the law protects women in the workplace who are experiencing menopause symptoms.

Adam Pavey is an employment lawyer at Pannone Corporate and will be speaking at the inquiry.

He said:

As it currently stands, there is no legislation in place to guide employers and support women going through the menopause in the workplace.

“The Equality Act protects people from discrimination based on sex, age, and disability, but this does not extend to those women suffering from menopausal symptoms which negatively affect them at work.

“While the likes of Acas and the CIPD have both recently published guidance for people professionals on how to support women through the menopause, under existing legislation, the menopause is not classed as a specific protected characteristic.

“As a result, in the event of a potential discrimination claim, there is no legal framework in place for women to rely on.”

So how are organisations making things easier for anyone experiencing menopause symptoms?

Rachel Credidio, chief transformation officer at Aster, said:

We have a number of on-going initiatives tailored for the needs of various groups of colleagues – whether they’re experiencing menopause themselves, supporting someone else, or just want to be better informed.

“We use programmes like our ‘hot topic’ discussion group to provide video e-learning, webinars, and workshops on subjects including nutrition, exercise and hormone replacement therapy.

“Starting out as a forum where employees could discuss their experiences of menopause, the initiative has developed into a 60-strong group of colleagues who regularly undertake webinars and discussions on how to cope with symptoms.

“We also recently launched a 10-week programme with MenoHealth, an organisation that delivers classes on managing the menopause.

Alongside active commitments and awareness building, there are also a host of practical steps employers can take to make colleagues feel supported in the workplace.

Rachel continues:

One step we have taken is to provide emergency packs in all of our office bathrooms containing sanitary wear and freshening wipes as well as wider toiletries.

“We also put USB fans on the stationery list as a standard item, available for anyone experiencing hot flushes – one of the most common symptoms of the menopause.

“We also provide employees with access to the latest information on the role lifestyle factors play in mitigating menopausal symptoms; for example, we recently ran a session highlighting the effects that diet and exercise choices can have on pelvic health.”

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