Almost three quarters (72%) of businesses do not have a menopause policy, according to a YouGov survey by Irwin Mitchell.
Even within organisations where the workforce is more then 50 percent women, only 13 percent of organisations have a menopause policy.
The manufacturing sector was shown to be the highest sector without policies, with 77 percent of manufacturing businesses reporting to have no menopause policy in place.
The findings also showed that almost half (44%) of businesses do not train their staff about the effects of menopause, with 15 percent not even considering it a priority.
Only 18 percent of organisations said they provide information about the menopause to their employees, with 13 percent offering internal support groups.
These findings were reported even though it is widely accepted that the effects of menopause can be debilitating for a woman’s physical and psychological wellbeing. Symptoms can have a variety of negative impacts on a woman’s confidence in work, lead to an absence, and in some cases resignations.
Worldwide it is estimated that 47 million women enter the menopause each year and 14 million days are lost at work because of the symptoms.
Lack of action is amplifying the current skills shortage
According to Irwin Mitchell, this lack of action is contributing to the current skills shortage and makes it more difficult to attract new employees.
Lawyers also highlight that it could result in businesses facing costly discrimination claims in the future.
Employment Law Partner at Irwin Mitchel, Jenny Arrowsmith, said: “These are disappointing results and when you consider menopause is an issue affecting the fastest-growing demographic in the UK, namely women aged 50-64, it’s clear businesses must do more.
How can HR mitigate this issue?
“It’s about time that menopause is openly discussed as a health and work issue and for employers to demonstrate that they take it seriously. Establishing a menopause policy is a simple and valuable starting point,” says Arrowsmith.
“Not only does a menopause policy help promote positive change within an organisation, it sets a framework for evidencing how it will approach conversations about the menopause, what support affected employees can expect to receive, and where they can access additional help. In doing so, it reduces the risk of costly disputes.”
Arrowsmith suggests “additional legal protection” should be given to those who have significant menopausal symptoms, which is something the Women and Equalities Committee are considering.
“Organisations that have woken up to the issue and are aware of the challenges that women face when going through the menopause are in a much stronger place to attract and retain colleagues who are often at the peak of their experience and have many more productive years ahead of them,” concludes Arrowsmith.