In a survey of 2,000 women with menopause symptoms, 63% said their workplace had no policy in place
More than 1 million women in the UK could be forced out of their jobs this year because their employers are failing to support them as they go through the menopause, researchers have said.
A survey of 2,000 women aged 45 to 67 across the UK experiencing menopause symptoms found that this lack of support is having a direct impact on their decisions to leave the workplace. The women said it was the second most devastating impact on their career to date, only just behind having children.
It found that a quarter of the women surveyed (24%) are unhappy in their jobs because of a lack of support, with 63% noting that their place of work has not introduced any kind of policy to make things easier for women going through menopause.
Terri Eva’s symptoms are so bad that she has been on sick leave from her job in a children’s centre for the last six months.
“My symptoms mean that being at work, without any support, is like torture,” she said. “My joints are so painful that I can’t move without agony. My head is in such a muddle that I can’t keep two thoughts in it at the same time and the anxiety is so bad it wakes me up at night.”
Eva will have to return to work shortly to avoid her pay being halved. “I’ve always loved my work but the thought of having to go back is terrifying,” she said. I also pay the mortgage on our home and can’t see how my family will survive if my salary is cut,” she said. “But I’m terrified of going back. My managers are sympathetic but don’t offer any real support.”
Gillian Archibald has left three jobs over the last seven years as she struggled to find employers who can help her cope with her symptoms in the workplace. “I don’t think employers have any idea how debilitating and soul-destroying it is for women who have worked their entire lives and want to continue working to feel a shadow of their former selves, but to not receive any meaningful support to keep working,” she said.
The evidence session, which will be the third of the committee’s inquiry into menopause and the workplace, will explore the relevant and applicable law and question whether it is fit for purpose. MPs will also examine the case for reforming existing legislation or introducing new laws.
In total, one in four of those questioned by Research Without Barriers said a lack of support from their workplaces had left them deeply unhappy in their jobs.
“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,” said Rachel Carrell, the founder of Koru Kids, which commissioned the research. “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.”
Nearly three-quarters of women who took part in the research said their workplace did not have a forum or space where they could talk openly about the menopause with their colleagues or employers, exacerbating their feelings of isolation and distress.
Diane Danzebrink, the founder of Menopause Support, said the research was “shocking but sadly not surprising”.
“Women supported through menopause will remain in the workplace and achieve their full potential and employers will retain valuable members of their teams,” she said. “It’s a win-win situation for employers and employees, it’s as simple as that.”