Menopause in the Workplace - the Impact Quantified

Fiona Clark

Is Menopause affecting your ability to work? If so, you’re not alone. For the first time the impact has been quantified & the results don’t paint a pretty picture.

It probably won’t come as a huge surprise to many women, but Menopause and work don’t mix well. According to a survey of more than 1100 women, one in ten have left their jobs because of their symptoms, and a staggering 90% say they believe it had had a negative affect on their work.

Menopause Doctor, Louse Newson and her colleague Dr Rebecca Lewis at the Newson Health Menopause & Wellbeing Centre, Winton House in Stratford-upon-Avon, surveyed 1132 women to try to discover the extent of the problem, and the results are quite disturbing.

In the UK there are around 4 million women aged over 50 in employment.  They make up around 45% of the total workforce for this age group. It is also the age group with the largest proportion of women in employment in it.

Roughly 80% of women experience symptoms related to the menopause, with 25% having severe symptoms that detrimentally affect their family life, relationships and work life.

These symptoms include impaired concentration, tiredness, poor memory, depression, feeling down, lowered confidence, sleepiness and hot flushes.

Some 5% of women will find it very difficult to cope with work during their menopausal transition, and around 10% of women who experience severe menopausal symptoms leave employment. Despite this, evidence on the impact of menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms on women in the workplace is scarce.

What the survey found

So, what did the the respondents say?

• More than 90% of respondents felt that their menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms were having a negative impact on their work , with more than half of respondents stating that colleagues had noted a deterioration in their work performance.

• As a result of poor performance at work, 9% of women had to undergo a disciplinary procedure.


Impact of menopausal symptoms on absenteeism and hours worked

• Around half of  the respondents reported having time off work due to menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms, with 19% being absent for more than 8 weeks .

• In total, 37% of women had been provided with a sickness certificate from their doctor; of these, 52% listed anxiety/stress as the cause, with only 7% stating menopause as a reason for sickness leave.

• Some 31% of women had thought about reducing their working hours and 32% had thought about leaving their job.

• More than 50% of women had chosen to reduce their hours at work.


Management of menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms

• Almost three-quarters of respondents had received some sort of treatment from a doctor or other healthcare professional for their menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms but only 14.5% of women had received any advice or support from their workplace about their menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms.

• In total, 9% of respondents stated that their workplaces offered menopause awareness sessions, 10% offered menopause discussion groups, and 4% offered training for staff about the menopause.

• Just over three-quarters of women reported that their workplaces offered no information or support regarding the menopause.

Dr Newson says the results of this survey highlight the substantial impact of menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms on women in the workplace and the lack of support they receive. Attributing  absenteeism on sick notes to ‘stress’ or ‘anxiety’ means that that the impact of the symptoms is under-reported.


Your rights

Dr Newson adds employers have a responsibility to look after the health and wellbeing of all their employees and but unfortunately very few have a policy in place to deal with menopause at the moment. And unfortunately, at the moment, many women don’t feel comfortable about talking about these symptoms with their boss. Knowing your rights in the workplace is important. (See the links below)

And of course seeking help from your GP or menopause clinic is vital.

“Women should not be suffering alone with their perimenopause or menopause. If you are experiencing symptoms which are having an impact on your work then you should see your GP or a doctor who specialises in the menopause for some individualised advice. There is more information on my website – or in my book “Menopause”.

Dr Newson also recommends these as useful links:

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