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‘Shocking’ menopause discrimination is forcing women out of work, MPs warn

WOMEN going through the menopause are being forced out of work by “shocking” discrimination, MPs warn.

The Women and Equalities Committee is calling for menopause to be protected under the Equality Act, making it illegal for bosses to treat employees differently because of it.

MPs are calling for more legal support to help women stay in work during the menopause

MPs are calling for more legal support to help women stay in work during the menopauseCredit: Getty

A report by the committee said workers who suffer menopause symptoms are 43 per cent more likely to be out of a job by age 55, compared to those without health issues.

Private health firm BUPA said nearly a million women have quit their jobs because of the mid-life health change.

Symptoms can include insomnia, hot flushes, migraine, muscle and joint pain and depression and anxiety.

The report says women must get more support at work with a menopause leave policy, plus mandatory training for GPs and cheaper prescriptions.

The Sun’s Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign has helped many of Britain’s biggest businesses to support women to stay in work as they go through the menopause – but more must be done.

Caroline Nokes MP, committee chair and menopause campaigner, said: “Stigma, shame and dismissive cultures can and must be dismantled.

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“It is imperative that we build workplaces, and a society, which supports those going through the menopause and encourages some of the most experienced and skilled workers in our economy to thrive.

“Menopausal women have been mocked and maligned for too long. 

“It is time that the Government seizes the opportunity to enact change – it is time to support and celebrate these women.”

There are 4.5million working women aged 50 to 64 who may be affected and deserve better protection from discrimination, the committee said.

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Members heard women often feel unsupported by co-workers and too embarrassed or scared to be honest about their health at work.

They are more likely to cut back their hours during the menopause or miss out on promotions because of health struggles.

Ministers last week launched their Women’s Health Strategy and pledged to close the “gender health gap”.

Dedicated women’s health hubs will be trialled around the country and could be used as bases for expert medics to provide specialist menopause care on the NHS.

A government spokesperson said: “We have put women’s health at the top of the agenda by publishing a Women’s Health Strategy for England, appointing the first-ever Women’s Health Ambassador, and taking action to increase supply and reduce the cost of hormone replacement therapy.

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“The UK-wide menopause taskforce is seeking to end the taboos surrounding the menopause and considering the role workplace policies can play in supporting menopausal women.

“And the government’s Health and Wellbeing Fund is helping expand and develop projects which support women experiencing the menopause to remain in the workplace.”