Menopause and the workplace: potential consequences of a new parliamentary inquiry
On 23 July 2021, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee ("the Committee") launched an inquiry into the consequences of menopause in the workplace. The Committee focuses on a 2019 BUPA and CIPD study which estimated that three in five women are negatively affected by menopause at work and that almost 900,000 women in the UK have left jobs as a result of menopausal symptoms. This has also led to questions on the impact this may be having on the businesses that employ women, as well as the wider economy and society.
What is the Committee seeking to address?
The Committee is seeking to bring into conversation the negative impact that menopause can have on working lives, particularly with those people eligible for senior management roles. It is also a call to action for the implementation of further measures, including new workplace policies specifically targeted to menopause. The inquiry poses various questions, including:
- What is the extent and nature of the discrimination faced by women experiencing menopause and how does this impact wider society?
- What is the economic impact of menopause discrimination?
- How can businesses factor in the needs of employees going through the menopause? Suggestions include guidance, advice, adjustments or enforcement.
- How should people who experience the menopause, but who do not identify as women, be supported in relation to menopause and the workplace?
- Should current legislation be amended and what further legislation may be required?
- How effective has Government action been at addressing menopause related discrimination?
Ultimately, the report aims to bring to the fore the benefits that a change in policy could have for people experiencing menopausal symptoms, as well as businesses and society.
What could the outcome of the inquiry mean for women and businesses?
Over the coming months and years, those suffering from menopause may see the extension of adjustments, guidance and tailored policies to address any discrimination or disadvantage.
Any outcome may prompt a change to Government guidance or legislation, particularly to the Government's Women's Health Strategy, which is currently in development. Employers may be required to implement targeted policies to address and rebalance any negative impact caused by menopausal symptoms in the workplace, in addition to reviewing current policies addressing discrimination based on age, sex and disability. Any changes may help to promote diversity at leadership levels and make an improvement in productivity.
The inquiry's call for evidence closes on 17 September 2021, and businesses may wish to monitor further developments in guidance and/or legislation to ensure compliance and support for people suffering from menopausal symptoms.
For further guidance on workplace policy and legislation please contact a member of our Employment team.