Almost one million have retired from work early due to the menopause, leading to a drastic shortfall in pensions contributions.
Talking to the Mail on Sunday newspaper, government business champion for older workers Andy Briggs said: “Nearly four million women in the UK are aged between 45 and 55 and are in employment. And women aged over the age of 50 are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce.
“Yet one in five women end up leaving the workplace as a result of some of the symptoms of menopause.”
Since women in their fifties are less likely than someone younger to return to work, this has a “huge impact” on their retirement income, he added.
Briggs, who runs life insurance company Phoenix and is former chief executive of Aviva, added that six in 10 women felt the menopause impacted them significantly at work but that it was never talked about.
In October, a survey by digital wellness platform Peppy found that 54% of businesses in the UK still do not have a dedicated menopause policy.
This summer, an inquiry by the Women and Equalities Committee suggested that greater legal protections for women going through the menopause should not be ruled out, including the possibility of making it a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.
The number of tribunal cases in which menopause-related discrimination is cited is also on the rise, according to a recent analysis by Linklaters.
It found that menopause was cited in 10 cases going through tribunals in the first six months of 2021, compared to five in 2018. In total, there are 49 published tribunal decisions featuring allegations of menopause-related detriment, the firm believes.
Briggs is co-chair of the 50Plus Choices Employer Taskforce, which last week produced a report making a number of recommendations to employers on supporting employees through menopause. These included:
- Nominating a menopause ambassador to work on behalf of government to represent the interests of those going through menopause
- Develop a methodology to quantify the cost of menopause to individuals, businesses and the economy
- Develop initiatives to enable conversations about the menopause to be normalised and provide practical help.
He added: “There is a very clear business case for supporting women to feel that they are valued in the workplace for longer and in ensuring that they can adapt how they work as they get older.
“Dropping out of the workplace early, due to factors such as the menopause or caring responsibilities, can have a significant impact on women’s financial futures.”