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Oct 19

Negative Impact of Menopause on Women’s Working Lives

Reading Time: 3 mins

A recent survey has revealed that over 40% of working women going through the menopause say it has had a negative impact on their job. With menopausal women cited as the fastest growing workforce demographic, the need for more support in the workplace is becoming even more urgent.

The survey, conducted by Opinium for investment platform AJ Bell, analysed responses from 1,071 women who have gone through, or are going through, the menopause. The results reinforced the importance of employers needing to put menopause policies in place to support women who are facing the challenges that come with entering a different stage of their lives.

menopause woman

Survey Results

  • More than a quarter of respondents agreed that going through the menopause had hindered their work life in some way, which also had a knock on effect on their financial lives.
  • Among those experiencing the menopause and working full time, an impact on confidence and performance at work was the most common challenge (32%).
  • Other issues included the need to reduce hours (6%), take an absence or holiday from work (15%), and leaving work or changing jobs (4%).
  • More than one in ten (14%) said their finances had been impacted by the menopause:
  • Reasons include reducing hours leading to lower earnings (7%), using up holiday/sick pay entitlement (3%), taking unpaid leave (3%), changing roles or employer with lower earnings (2%).
  • Of those that said it impacted their finances, half (51%) cut their outgoings in order to manage financially and 59% of the women surveyed saying they don’t have or aren’t sure if they have sufficient savings to fund their retirement.

Menopause policies

Whilst some workplaces are beginning to understand the importance of putting menopause policies in place, it remains a relatively taboo subject.

Well over 8 in 10 (84%) of those still working said their employer either had no menopause policy or they weren’t aware of one being in place. Only 11% felt their employer had an adequate menopause policy in place, with 5% saying an inadequate policy existed in their workplace.

Despite those poor figures, workplaces have actually improved their approach in recent years. Among those women now retired but who went through the menopause while they were in work, just 1% say they were aware of their employer having had a menopause policy in place.

WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT

menopause woman

The UK labour market remains fragile. The government wants (and needs) to encourage people into employment, or to work more hours, to boost the economy. Women in their 40s and 50s are a valuable asset in any workplace, with years of experience under their belts. Losing these women because of a lack of support while they go through the menopause is completely avoidable.

As the survey results show, it isn’t just about the economy and keeping older women working. If they can’t work, they can’t save and this will have a direct and dire impact on them in later life. This is turn could have further negative repercussions on the economy as these women will need additional support from the state.

Breaking the silence around the menopause, encouraging employers and staff to recognise the impact it can have, and ensuring adequate policies are in place, could have a big influence.

Danni Hewson, AJ Bell financial analyst, comments, “Despite the fact all women go through the menopause it’s still something that many find difficult to talk about. Whilst companies are getting much better at recognising the importance of having a menopause policy in place there’s still a massive stigma attached to the subject.

“Most women experience the menopause between the ages of 45 and 55.  It often coincides with a hugely significant period in someone’s work and financial life, with many thinking seriously about their retirement for the first time and considering whether they have enough set aside.”

What can Employers do?

Jo James, Head of HR at AJ Bell, says, “Employers can support staff affected by the menopause to help prevent this important group of workers either stepping down from key roles or leaving employment earlier than they planned to.

A good place to start is to introduce a Menopause Policy into the workplace which provides clear guidance for both the employee and their line manager, with support from HR. Training for managers which builds awareness and understanding will help achieve better outcomes for menopausal staff.”

MORE INFORMATION

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