How the UK is Considering Strengthening its Legislation to Protect Women in Menopause?

Just when I think the world is going so slow on progressing with the feminist movement, I see initiatives like these which would amaze a woman of the 70s. Read on to see how there’s new legislation being considered to protect women during their menopause.

A 2019 survey conducted by BUPA and the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that three in five menopausal women – mostly between 45 and 55 – were negatively affected at work and that almost 900,000 women in the UK left their jobs over an undefined period of time because of menopausal symptoms. 

As Unison puts it, Many of those experiencing the menopause may feel confused or powerless if they don’t understand why their body is behaving in the way it is. 

Some women experience almost no menopausal symptoms, but around 80% do experience noticeable changes and of these, 45% find their symptoms difficult to deal with.

How is this translated in terms of productivity and fairness for women? This means that they are leaving their careers, and abandoning their professions at the peak of their success and development. 

Sadly, gender roles and stereotypes show that women do not manage to achieve managerial roles and leadership levels, until they reach their 40s. 

Imagine becoming a senior manager in your dream job, and having to throw away all of your experience, because there is no protective legislation on a draining problem for women – both mentally and physically, such as the menopause phase. 


Inquiry Opened

This is directly translated as discrimination, unavailability of equal access and opportunities, gender pay gap and a disparity of pensions.

However, finally, the topic is being brought to the discussion in some places. On the 23d of July, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee of the U.K launched a new inquiry, assessing existing legislation and workplace practices, to see if enough is being done to address the issue of menopause, both from the government and from employers. 

The inquiry was open until Friday, 17th of September, and the committee is welcoming thoughts, input, and submissions on the matter.

Currently, menopause discrimination is only broadly covered under the three protected characteristics: age, sex and disability discrimination, under the Equality Act 2010. Lately, there have been many calls to extend or precise the legislation, so to require employers to set up work place policies on protecting women during their menopause, and any sort of discrimination they may experience while they’re undergoing this phase.

The time for these changes is at its peak now that the Government of U.K has also recently required contributions to help inform the development of a Women’s Health Strategy. 

“Three in every five women are negatively affected at work as a result of the menopause. The repercussions of that are not merely individual. 

“Excluding menopausal women from the workplace is detrimental to our economy, our society and our place on the world stage.” Said Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP ,Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, 

She added that it is time to uncover and address this huge issue, which has been left near-invisible for far too long.”


“Suffering Has Gone On Long Enough”

Caroline Nokes, chair of the women and equalities committee said that this inquiry has been informed from many cases of discrimination that women have faced in the workplace. “The suffering has gone on for long enough, and now that women have now found their voice, by God they are willing to use it, and they have become warriors,” she added, through a powerful statement.

However, this is not just a legislation problem. Employers must be willing to invest in menopause policies, and ways to make their women staff feel safe, heard and valued within the working place. More up to date employers in Europe and the U.S are actually striving to offer menopause protection for women, by combining the following:

  • Training on gender sensitivity of HR staff
  • Positive messaging and information
  • Multiple channels for support
  • Clear sickness procedures
  • Flexibility
  • Adapting Menopause policies 
  • Taking Health and safety measures

Yet again, as the topics is opened for a wider discussion, more needs to be done to raise awareness on the issue worldwide, so that women can get the protection they deserve, without having to make the sacrifices to choose between their health and their career.

More from Valmira Rashiti here:

The Problem With The ‘Do It All Myself’ Syndrome

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