A new inquiry has been launched by the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee on menopause discrimination in the workplace.
The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee has launched a new inquiry regarding the treatment of women going through menopause in the workplace.
The aim is to scrutinise existing legislation and workplace practices to see if enough is being done to address the issue.
The Committee says almost a million women in the UK have left their jobs as a result of menopausal symptoms. Despite menopause being a biological process almost every woman will go through in their late 40s and early 50s, it is worried that many companies are still not providing enough support for their employees.
Currently there is not a governmental policy in place regarding menopause. “Despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of women in the UK are currently going through the menopause – a process that can be both physically and mentally draining – it is ignored in legislation,” says MP Caroline Nokes, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee.
Nokes adds that “three in every five women are negatively affected at work as a result of the menopause”. She states: “The repercussions of that are not merely individual. Excluding menopausal women from the workplace is detrimental to our economy, our society and our place on the world stage.”
Campaigners argue that, because of the timing of menopause and the lack of governmental guidelines, many women are prevented from moving to senior management roles which is detrimental to their career and also to business productivity, the gender pay-gap and the gender pension gap.
The Committee is now looking at different aspects of the issue such as the economic impact of menopause discrimination and the extent of the discrimination faced by women. They are also questioning what legislation should be implemented to have policies to protect women going through menopause whist at work and what more the government can do to address this issue.
They are now seeking written submissions on these issues by September 17th.
The Committee’s announcement comes following increasing awareness of the issue from different companies. Insurance firm Aviva was one the companies to launch a menopause support app for their employees last year, including a 45-minute phone consultation with a menopause specialist. They also ran a menopause awareness campaign, whose aim was to encourage open conversations on the impact of menopause at work.
Other employers support menopause cafes or have launched their own menopause at work policies or guidelines. They include everyone from Seven Trent, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons and HSBC to the NHS and WH Smith.
However, campaigners argue that having government policy on this could help speed up progress, making effective changes for the workers’ wellbeing.
Nokes said: “It is time to uncover and address this huge issue, which has been left near-invisible for far too long.”