Avoiding The Menopause Resignation
Menopause will likely affect all workforces across the UK in some way throughout the employment lifecycle. Yet, until recently, there was limited awareness of the difficulties employees face and trivial support in place for employees suffering with menopausal systems. As a result, almost 900,000 women were forced to leave their jobs, with researching showing that three in five menopausal women were negatively affected at work.
At a time when women should be reaching a peak point in their careers by being eligible for senior management roles, they are instead being overlooked and confined to less-deserving positions due to employers inadequately fulfilling their duty of care obligations. This not only negatively impacts employees but can detrimentally affect business operations due to reduced productivity, high turnover and low internal growth opportunities. Investment into development can be curbed by businesses failing to support staff through a key life change and feed into a disparity in gender pay-gaps.
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee are currently undertaking inquiries into the impacts of menopause in the workplace and the case for policy reform; specifically, to explore and assess current workplace practices, to understand whether existing discrimination legislation protects workers going through the menopause or if more needs to be done. This was created by Parliamentarians to provide a platform to tackle the lack of understanding around menopause and highlight the issues and challenges it brings. The call for evidence closed on 30 September 2021 so it is anticipated that the information will be collected, reviewed and presented to the Government for consideration as soon as reasonably possible.
Wellbeing of Women charity have since launched their Menopause Workplace Pledge campaign to encourage organisations to become more supportive and understanding of employees going through the menopause. Signing the Pledge recognises an employer’s commitment to talk openly, positively and respectfully about the menopause; actively support and inform affected employees; and identify that this may be an issue in the workplace which women need support with. Doing so can help increase staff retention, reduce recruitment expenses, improve productivity, happiness and wellbeing, and ensure a more diverse workforce. A number of large organisations have already signed the Pledge including Tesco, Santander, Harper Collins and PwC, with new organisations becoming involved every day.
Businesses should pro-actively consider ways to support employees going through menopause. A working space close to fans, air conditioning, windows or doors, and away from heaters, can help them feel more comfortable. Similarly, flexible working arrangements, more frequent or longer rest breaks and adapted dress codes can assist staff members. Tesco announced its plans to revamp their staff uniform and introduce a more breathable fabric to help those suffering with hot flushes. Training for managers and guidance for workforces are also fundamental in ensuring inclusivity. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) favour these adjustments in their recent recommendations and also outline the benefits of expressly considering individuals going through the menopause in risk assessments.