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Menopause and the workplace

The TUC has responded to the Women and Equalities Select Committee inquiry on menopause and the workplace which was held earlier this year.

The TUC highlight that menopause is a key workplace issue. It is an equality issue as well as a health and safety issue and will impact all women at some point in their lives. This is why unions have and continue to lead calls for workplace policies to support women going through menopause and raise awareness of menopause as a workplace issue.

Women of menopausal age (45-54) make up 11% of all people in employment and 23% of all women in employment, which is 3.5 million women. Research suggests that the extent and impact of discrimination, bad practice, and general lack of awareness regarding menopause is forcing women out of the workforce. BUPA research estimates nearly 1 million women have been forced out of the labour market due to menopausal symptoms, or perhaps more accurately due to the lack of workplace support for them as they try to manage their symptoms and cope with a natural but often difficult process.

All workplaces need to adopt workplace policies that support women and others who experience menopause, says the TUC. In doing so it will help challenge the stigma surrounding menopause and other conditions that affect women, as well as supporting experienced, skilled, talented, hard-working women to remain in the labour market.

It makes several recommendations for employers in order to support menopausal women and those with menopausal symptoms, including:

  • Adopting a workplace menopause policy that includes employer commitments to:

    • Provide appropriate information and support for all workers experiencing menopause and menopausal symptoms.

    • Risk assessments taking into account the specific needs of the individual.

    • Adjustments to working conditions proactively put in place.

    • Training and awareness raising for all staff.

  • Individual risk assessments that consider the specific needs and experiences of the individual and the specificities of the workplace.

  • Offer reasonable adjustments in consultation with the individual.

  • Offer flexible working as default.

To Government, the TUC recommends:

  • Extend the Public Sector Equality Duty to private sector organisations.

  • Adopt a key strategic role in raising awareness of the impact of menopause in the workplace, the existing legislative duties on employers and promoting good guidance, training and best practice policies that should be adopted by employers.

  • Make flexible working the default. Suggestions are made on how to do this, for example through introducing a legal duty on employers to consider which flexible working arrangements are available in a role and publish these in job advertisements, with the new postholder having a day one right to take up the flexible working arrangements that have been advertised.

The full article from the TUC can be found here.

TUC December 2021

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