Written by Andy Briggs, Group CEO of Phoenix Group and Government Business Champion for Older Workers
Unlike pregnancy or maternity, the menopause is generally not well understood or provided for in workplace cultures, policies and training. A quarter of working women going through the menopause consider giving up work due to the symptoms and, so far, over one million women have already left the workforce.
This shows a hugely concerning pattern of intersectional discrimination in the workforce and, with menopause affecting at least half the population at some point in their lives, the Government must recognise this as an increasingly significant issue as our workforce ages.
Women have been overlooked for too long in employment policies, and government and employers must wake up to the opportunity and need to remove the stigma around the menopause in the workplace. Otherwise, we risk an increasing trend of – particularly older – women leaving the workforce – and leaving for good.
As part of this, we believe the Government must review the legal protections within the Equalities Act 2010 to ensure that women experiencing discrimination related to the effects of menopause are appropriately protected. Enforcing change would help ensure employers are compassionate and flexible to the needs of their employees and help keep more women in the workforce for longer.
Phoenix Group welcomes the confirmation that the Government will be appointing a dedicated Menopause Employment Champion. The new appointment has a critical role in ensuring we move beyond just the ‘good employers’ adopting best practise and ensure it is recognised across all employers. As a minimum, this must include employers having a dedicated leave policy and procedures in place to support women going through the menopause.