A survey of 92 human resources (HR) managers in the construction industry found that most had no policies relating to menopause.
According to law firm Irwin Mitchell, which commissioned the YouGov survey, this leaves them not just at risk of losing experience employees but also exposed to legal action.
The survey found that only 28% of construction employers consider menopausal symptoms during the performance reviews of female staff. This is despite it being widely accepted that the effects of the menopause – joint pain, hot flushes, memory loss, fatigue and anxiety – can be debilitating for a woman’s physical and psychological wellbeing, lead to periods of absence or even resignations. The survey also found that 61% of organisations in the sector that were surveyed do not have a menopause policy.
According to Irwin Mitchell, this lack of action is forcing women out of their careers and could result in businesses facing discrimination claims.
Jenny Arrowsmith, an employment law partner at Irwin Mitchell, said: “These are disappointing results and when you consider that menopause is an issue which affects the fastest-growing demographic in the UK, namely women aged 50-64, it’s clear businesses must do more.
“It’s about time that menopause is openly discussed as a health and work issue and for employers to demonstrate that they take it seriously. Establishing a menopause policy is a simple and valuable starting point.
“Not only does a menopause policy help to promote positive change within an organisation, it sets a framework for evidencing how the organisation will approach conversations about the menopause, what support affected employees can expect to receive and where they can access additional help. In doing so, it reduces the risk of costly disputes.
“There has been a significant rise in the number of employment tribunals where menopause is mentioned over the last two to three years and as awareness of this issue grows, we expect to see complaints increase further. Our survey demonstrates that there is a considerable amount of work still to do.
“Organisations that have woken up to the issue and are aware of the challenges that women face when going through the menopause are in a much stronger place to attract and retain colleagues who are often at the peak of their experience and have many more productive years ahead of them.”