With women considering quitting their jobs due to a lack of menopause support, a recent report says it should be a protected characteristic under the Equality Act.

The report, from a committee of MPs, reveals that businesses are losing skilled workers by neglecting to support women during menopause, “haemorrhaging talent” as a result.

Published at the end of July, The Women and Equalities Committee’s (WEC) Menopause and the Workplace report, found the main reasons that women experiencing menopause are choosing to leave their jobs include stigma, lack of support and discrimination.

Resolving workplace challenges

According to the findings, neither the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) nor the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) offers any advice on menopause on its website, and that needs to be changed.

It has also been recommended that a special ambassador be appointed to support women at work.

The role of the ambassador

The Menopause Ambassador will be assigned with developing policies such as:

  • How to request sufficient adjustments
  • Guidance on flexible working
  • Sick leave for menopause symptoms
  • Requirements for education, training and improving workplace culture.

They would also be required to work closely with unions and other stakeholders.

According to Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest healthcare charity:

  • An estimated 13 million women in the UK are either peri- or post-menopausal
  • Symptoms can be experienced for up to 15 years
  • More than 60 per cent of women experience behavioural changes due to their symptoms
  • One in four women will undergo serious debilitating symptoms
  • Almost half of menopausal women suffer from depression.

What can employers do?

There are a variety steps that can be taken to support women in the workplace, which may include:

  • Allowing flexibility with breaks, rather than sticking to a set schedule
  • Ensuring the workplace is well ventilated
  • Providing access to cold water
  • Offering easily accessible washing and toilet facilities.

Chair of the WEC, Caroline Nokes, said:

“Menopausal women have been mocked and maligned for too long. It is time that the government seizes the opportunity to enact change. It is time to support, and celebrate, these women.”

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