On World Menopause Day (18th October 2021), employment lawyers advise on what measures can be put into place to support staff going through the transition. 

According to employment lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, low awareness amongst employers about the menopause is causing thousands of women each year to be absent from work and to quit their jobs.

Typically, women between the ages of 45-55 are impacted by the menopause and this can cause symptoms including  loss of confidence, disrupted sleep, anxiety, poor memory, joint and muscle pains, hair and skin changes, worsening migraines as well as the more commonly reported hot flushes.

As such, this has led to an estimated one in 10 women leaving their roles, causing the workforce to lose women who are experienced and senior in their positions.

This can also have an impact on employee engagement, with female staff feeling disengaged, less productive or having more time off work because of their symptoms.

However, the law firm warns that this problem is likely to get worse if ignored by employers.

This warning comes during the Great Resignation when many companies are competing to attract and retain staff amidst a hiring boom.

Jenny Arrowsmith, an Employment partner at Irwin Mitchell, said:

There are currently over a million job vacancies in the UK economy and in certain sectors there is a huge skills gap. Surely, the last thing these organisations need is for women to be leaving as a result of their employer’s lack of understanding or support for how menopausal symptoms can impact them in work.

Employers that choose to side-line menopause as a ‘women’s issue’ rather than a business issue will quite simply lose out.

Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic of the workplace.

Most women are impacted with symptoms but 25 per cent of women are seriously impacted. They may be unable to reach their full potential without the right support when it’s needed and this contributes to women leaving their jobs. Employers owe a duty to their female employees to do more to support and would reap the benefits from doing so.

As such, Ms. Arrowsmith outlined various steps employers can take to adequately support staff going through this change.

Firstly, she states businesses should commit to understanding and communicating how the menopause impacts women and what support would help.

An example of this would be appointing “menopause champions” who can “open up discussions, develop suitable policies and advocate for adjustments to minimise the impact in work for affected women”.

Additionally, Ms. Arrowsmith advises employers should signpost where staff can find reliable information about the menopause and hormone replacement therapy.

Finally, analysing how the workplace could be optimised to avoid exacerbating any symptoms of the menopause including providing breakout areas that offer quiet places to work in open plan offices, cold water stations and desk fans.

Ms. Arrowsmith concluded to say:

If businesses take the time to understand how the menopause is affecting individual employees, rather than assuming that everyone needs the same thing, you’ll stand a much better chance of retaining the experience, knowledge and support your organisation needs.

*This research was compiled by law firm Irwin Mitchell.