According to our Menopause and the Workplace Report, most women* feel unsupported in the workplace during the menopause. This leads many to consider either reducing their hours or leaving their jobs.
Only 9.3% of women who completed our survey felt supported in the workplace while going through the menopause, and 57% of women reported that hostile workplace environments impacted their wellbeing and ability to work.
Know your rights
The Equality Act
Under the 2010 Equality Act it is unlawful to discriminate against people at work because of a protected characteristic. The protected characteristics include age, disability and sex.
Many of us know that age discrimination is when you are treated differently because of your age. But fewer people know that indirect age discrimination may be the result of a rule or policy which puts people within a certain age group (i.e. menopausal age) at a disadvantage.
Likewise, sex discrimination is when you are treated differently because of your sex. But indirect sex discrimination may arise if an organisation has a particular policy or way of working that applies in the same way to both sexes but which puts a woman at a disadvantage because of her sex, unless it can be objectively justified.
Both of these laws mean that if a woman experiencing the menopause is treated detrimentally at work because of menopausal symptoms and these are not taken into account within policies or practices, it could potentially give rise to sex and age discrimination.
There is also a more detailed ‘Public Sector Equality Act’, which specifically covers public sector employees and suggests that public sector employers carry out an equality impact assessment (EIA) of both external policies affecting service users, customers and clients and internal policies affecting the employees.
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
The Health and Safety at Work Act requires employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all workers. The Regulations require employers to assess the risks of ill health (which includes stress related conditions) arising from work-related activities to ensuring that the hazards are removed or that proper control measures are put in place to reduce it.
Within this Act, employers should include the consideration of specific risks for women experiencing the menopause. If they don’t, there may be a case to fight.
Join a union
If you feel your workplace isn’t adequately supporting you during the menopause a workplace union can help support and advise you. Find unions and more information on TUC’s resources.
Read our resources
We have provided a list of useful resources for you to learn more about the menopause, your rights in the workplace, available peer support groups, information on transgender menopause, and more.
Make Menopause Matter
There is a growing movement of women who are successfully campaigning together to petition and break the silence around menopause. You’ll find many of them sharing stories on social media using the hashtag #MakeMenopauseMatter.
* Please note that the women referred to in this work are primarily cisgender women, based on who opted to participate in our research. But it is important to note that it’s not just cis women who experience menopause, and not all women go through menopause either. The experiences of menopause for trans people varies hugely depending on individuals’ circumstances. We have included some links about trans menopause in our resources page.