Businesses failing to deal with menopause among staff, survey finds

Just one in five employers consider menopausal symptoms during performance reviews of female staff, according to law firm Irwin Mitchell.

A woman sitting near a computer
A woman sitting near a computer

The majority of British businesses are failing to deal with menopause in the workplace, according to new research.

Just one in five employers considers menopausal symptoms during performance reviews of female staff.

And only a quarter of businesses have a menopause policy at all, employment lawyers Irwin Mitchell found.

The survey of HR leaders revealed most companies lack training for managers on this area and are not confident that their female employees can talk freely about the menopause.

Irwin Mitchell said the lack of policy action will make it harder for businesses to attract new employees, and warn it could result in costly discrimination claims in future.

It said there has been a significant rise in the number of employment tribunals where menopause is mentioned in the past two to three years.

GP and menopause specialist, Dr Louise Newson, stressed that menopause has a significant negative impact on women’s careers and is causing a growing number to resign.

Her own research found almost a fifth of women with menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms took more than eight weeks leave, and half of this group resigned or took early retirement.

Dr Newson said: “It is the responsibility of organisations to create a menopause confident environment and the evidence suggests that those who do, retain talent and empower both their female and male employees.”

Lawyers suggest that companies establish a menopause policy to allow the issue to be openly discussed at work and avoid costly disputes.

It comes as high street pharmacy Boots announced last week it will cover the cost of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) prescriptions for its menopausal staff, following in the footsteps of locksmiths Timpson in October.

Boots said around 8,600 employees could benefit from the policy with up to 15% of those likely to receive HRT in England.

Cereal giant Kellogg’s also announced new support measures in October last year for its employees experiencing menopause, pregnancy loss or fertility treatment, including paid leave and increased flexible working.

A Government spokesperson said: “We urge employers to be compassionate and flexible to all of their employees’ specific circumstances, including those experiencing menopausal symptoms.

“The Government is committed to supporting more flexible working patterns, which is why we have already consulted on making flexible working the default, unless employers have a good reason not to.”

Irwin Mitchell’s findings come from a YouGov survey of 1,025 HR leaders across UK businesses last month.

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