Last month it was reported that the menopause is forcing many women into premature retirement. A government adviser has warned that the number of women that have had to take retirement early due to the menopause could bring on a pension crisis.
Over 45s in the UK workplace
Andy Briggs, the government’s business champion for older workers, has described how many older women are leaving the workplace due to the effect the menopause has on their health and wellbeing.
He also said that nearly four million women aged between 45 and 55 are in employment in the UK, with women over 50 being the fastest growing segment of the workforce.
He highlighted that those leaving the workplace in their fifties end up negatively impacting on their retirement income.
The effect on pensions
The information comes following the publishing of a report by the 50Plus Choices Employer Taskforce. The report found that a quarter of women consider leaving work due to symptoms experienced from the menopause. It also stated that almost a million women have given up working because of the menopause.
What may not be clear now is the affect that this will have on the pensions landscape in 20 years.
Childcare responsibilities taken on in earlier life combined with a reduction in pension contributions from leaving work due to menopause, may result in a devastating impact on pension pots, furthering the pension gender gap.
Therefore, it seems imperative that employers take steps to start supporting those experiencing menopause now.
Why should businesses provide support?
The report states that there are key reasons why businesses should create more awareness and menopause-friendly workplaces:
- With close to 4 million women aged 45-55 in work in the UK, there are few workplaces where the menopause is not being experienced by staff.
- It is affecting recruitment and retention; women experiencing menopause are often at the peak of their skills and experience, and businesses should be getting the most from its female talent. With the pandemic causing an abundance of skills shortages, this would seem increasingly important.
- Employers have a duty of care for employees’ health and wellbeing and not to discriminate directly or indirectly on the grounds of sex, age, or disability.
- There are more than 30 physical and mental conditions that may be caused by menopause transition, of which a lack of awareness is negatively affecting workforce productivity.
What can be done to support those in the workplace?
Recommendations for employers from the report include:
1. Encouraging open conversation within the workplace to break down the taboo associated with menopause.
2. Training line managers in the effects of menopause and providing signposts for more help and information.
3. An appropriate sick leave policy.
4. Flexible working rights.
A comprehensive benefits strategy can also help, with the report suggesting larger employers may want to make use of Employee Assistance Programmes to offer additional support. It also recommended that the Money and Pensions Service include the impact of menopause on one’s finances.