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Over 3 in 5 menopausal women still face discrimination in the workplace

A new study on workplace discrimination has revealed that over 3 in 5 menopausal women face discrimination in the workplace. This comes as a new study reveals nearly 8 out of 10 menopausal women are currently in work

A recent survey has revealed that over two-thirds (69%) of people in the UK believe women face discrimination at work when going through menopause. 

The symptoms of menopause can affect women both physically and mentally, which can make everyday tasks harder than usual and according to the Faculty of Occupational Medicine*, almost 8 out of 10 menopausal people are in work. 

With increased media awareness, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published new guidance** under the Equality Act 2010, which protects employees against discrimination, harassment and victimisation based on characteristics such as disability, age and sex. 

Under the guidance, if menopause symptoms have a long-term and substantial impact on a woman’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, these symptoms could be considered a disability

A survey of over 2,000 people to reveal attitudes towards discrimination against women with menopause in the workplace.

The findings revealed just 13.8% of people believe women never face discrimination in the workplace due to menopause compared with 69% believing menopausal women are subject to discrimination.

Breaking this down by gender, 74% of women and 64% of men said ‘Yes’. However, almost 1 in 5 men (17.7%) believe that women never experience discrimination at work due to menopause.  

Those aged 16-24 were most likely to think women faced discrimination, despite being the age group least likely to know about or understand menopause. Nearly 50% of this age group believed menopausal women face some discrimination. This might be because they have access to more information due to social media, or because family members, such as their mothers, may be going through menopause.

When it comes to what kind of discrimination menopausal women face, one of the main topics was being passed up for promotions. Another common topic was the symptoms women experience needing to be taken more seriously by their line managers and colleagues.

Employers need to be aware of menopausal symptoms and their potential impact on the individual, their performance and progression. Employers should be taking proactive steps to support their employees as failing to do so could lead to discrimination complaints being raised in the ET. 

Dr Beverley Taylor, Forth’s Menopause Expert “Sadly, this is fairly typical of where we are with menopause in the workplace. We have seen some positive steps to reduce bias from organisations who offer menopause awareness training and/or specific menopause support.

Yet, there is much work to be done to increase overall awareness and reduce the impact of menopause symptoms at work. In 2023 we saw employment tribunal cases start to hit the media. The case of Maria Rooney and that of Karen Farquharson brought home just how much of an issue managing menopause at work is, and how far we have to go to reduce this bias and enable women to truly thrive during their menopausal years.” 

Sarah Bolt, Founder and CEO of Forth said: “While the heightened awareness of menopause discrimination is a positive aspect, the reality that women at this stage of life continue to experience such bias means we have much more work to do as a society.”

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