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BMS Conference Poster: Unworkable – how the UK workplace fails women going through the menopause

BMS Conference Poster: Unworkable – how the UK workplace fails women going through the menopause

The British Menopause Society’s annual conference was held in Warwickshire this month and a team from NHMS presented findings from a survey commissioned by The Fawcett Society on the current picture of menopause experiences at work.

Dr Louise Newson joined forces with Dr Daniel Reisel, Andrew Bazeley, Kate Muir and Dr Rebecca Lewis to showcase three posters highlighting a range of different findings from surveys carried out into the perimenopause and menopause during this last year, commissioned by The Fawcett Society.

It is well known that the menopause can be disruptive and detrimental to a woman’s quality of life. However, the extent to which the menopause impacts wellbeing at work has not been clearly mapped out.

Researchers analysed the results of a large-scale panel survey of women aged 45-55 with current menopausal symptoms. The survey was conducted online and included 4,014 female respondents. Data was weighted to be representative of UK women aged 45-55 by age and region.

Results showed that almost half of the women surveyed (44%) reported that their menopausal symptoms had caused significant negative impact on their work. Common symptoms included reduced motivation and confidence, as well as the whole spectrum of physical symptoms associated with the menopause and perimenopause.

Additionally, researchers found evidence of workplaces being resistant to change – only 14% of respondents said their employer had put in place a menopause support network, and only 9% said their employer had a menopause absence policy. Many women felt unable to get adequate leave to recover from their symptoms and had to use other reasons than then menopause to apply for sick leave.

The impact on work and professional progression was equally profound. Of those surveyed, 28% had either reduced their hours or altered their working pattern to being part-time, and 10% had left their work due their workplace being unable to accommodate their needs. This equates to a workforce attrition of over 330,000 women between the ages of 45-55 years.

The authors concluded:

“These results suggest that the UK has a long way to go for women to feel supported at work, and for employers to be able to ensure that their staff are given a work environment able to adapt to their needs.”

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