As many as one in three women need to take time off work because of menopause symptoms, research from a committee of MPs has concluded.
The report by the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee also found most women do not tell anyone at work that they are going through the menopause, despite the vast majority experiencing symptoms that affect how they feel at work.
The survey of more than 2,000 women was carried out as part of the committee’s ongoing inquiry into menopause and the workplace, which it is expecting to conclude and present to the government in late spring.
The 31% who reported taking time off work because of menopause also reported symptoms as including problems with memory or concentration, anxiety/depression and headaches (75%, 69% and 41% of all respondents respectively).
Despite this, less than a third of respondents told anyone at work and just under 11% requested adjustments in the workplace.
Menopause and work
Those who did not request adjustments were most likely to do so as a result of stigma, with 26% citing the reason as “I was worried about the reaction of others”.
Almost one in five respondents (19%) did not know who to speak to in order to request adjustments, which led to them not speaking up.
Of the respondents who did ask for support, those who spoke to line managers felt more supported than employees who reported symptoms to HR or occupational health.
The MPs concluded there was still “considerable stigma” about talking about menopause at work, and that a reticence to seek support arises “out of concerns for privacy and worrying about the reaction of others”.
Committee chair Caroline Nokes, MP, said: “If companies want to retain talent and experience, they need to wake up to the reality of menopause. Our survey shows us just how common symptoms which have an obvious impact in the workplace are, and how ashamed those experiencing them feel.
“Yet the survey tells us is that the solutions are in easy reach for most organisations. Much of this is about practical adjustments for employees, and stamping out boorish ‘banter’ that menopause is a ‘women’s problem’ or a joke. There’s a legal, social and economic imperative to support working women through a normal life transition, so we can hold on to role models for the next generation,” she added.