MPs are leading calls for the Government to implement clear workplace policies to protect women who are experiencing menopause.
A significant number of women have seen their careers ruined by symptoms such as anxiety, confusion and a loss of confidence, with some female employees having to face disciplinary action, being forced to take time off work, or even have to stop working altogether due to the condition.
Around 80 per cent of will women experience some symptoms of the menopause, brought about when ovulation stops as a result of hormone levels dropping.
One in four of these will have severe symptoms, including anxiety and depression, which can lead to them being diagnosed with mental health problems and prescribed medication.
MP Carolyn Harris said: “You wouldn’t dream of having a workplace where people weren’t entitled to certain things because they were pregnant, and it’s exactly the same for women with the menopause. I firmly believe there should be legislation to make sure every workplace has a menopause policy, just like they have a maternity policy.”
A survey of more than 1,100 women conducted by health experts found that 94 per cent of women felt their work had suffered as a result of symptoms, with more than half (53 per cent) saying colleagues had noticed a deterioration in their performance.
Just over half of respondents had taken time off sick, and one in 10 had missed more than eight weeks of work.
Over a third of those women involved in the survey said their employers did not offer any kind of discussion group, awareness session or training on the subject of menopause, despite the fact there are more than five million working women aged 45-60 in the UK.
Sue Hackett, the London Regional Equality Officer at the GMB union, said: “It is high time we stop treating menstruation and menopause as taboo subjects. Women have put up with insulting comments and a woeful lack of provision for far too long for what is a completely natural condition.
“Workplace policies around sickness absence or performance management could unfairly penalise women because of key symptoms like memory loss or lack of concentration.”