Over the last five years employment tribunals have seen a sharp rise in the number of claims citing menopause. According to the figures from HM Courts and Tribunals Service, menopause was a material factor in five cases in the last nine months of 2018 compared with 10 in first six months of 2021.
This number does not look like it will be slowing down. Menopausal women are the fastest growing working demographic in the UK. As such, we are seeing an increasing number of employees prepared to challenge employers who do not provide sufficient support for those in the workforce going through menopause.
27 October 2021 saw the second reading debate of the Menopause Bill. Some of the recommendations that have been put forward for employers include:
- fostering a supportive environment;
- putting in place clearly drafted policies dealing with issues relating to menopause; and
- offering increased flexible working options for employees dealing with menopause.
Further, in a press release issued on 25 November 2021, the Minister for Employment called on employers to strengthen their support of the careers of women who suffer from serious menopause symptoms. The press release was issued alongside the publication of findings from the independent report commissioned by the government in July 2021, which found that almost one in four women are forced to leave work as a result of menopause symptoms and those who experience serious symptoms take an average of 32 weeks of leave. Without the support of employers, this could limit progression and lead to long-term unemployment. The Minister for Employment has urged employers to use a national network of advisors, “50 Plus Champions”, to support and retain their workers over the age of 50, including women experiencing the menopause.
The government will be responding to the recommendations of the report in the coming months. The recommendations of the Women and Equalities Committee’s inquiry into menopause in the workplace are also awaited