Two senior female friends hiking together through the forest in autumn

Early retirement due to menopause causing pensions shortfall

Nearly a million women have taken early retirement due to menopause, meaning they miss years of pension contributions and thus have a significant shortfall in their expected retirement income.

Former Aviva and current Phoenix Group chief executive Andy Briggs recently outlined the problem to the Mail on Sunday. Briggs told the newspaper: “Nearly four million women in the UK are aged between 45 and 55 and are in employment. And women aged over the age of 50 are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce.

“Yet one in five women end up leaving the workplace as a result of some of the symptoms of menopause.”

Briggs added that as women in their 50s are less likely to return to work than their younger counterparts, this subsequently negatively impacts their retirement income. He also said that six in 10 women felt the menopause had a significant impact on them at work but that it was never discussed by their employer.

Furthermore, in October, a survey published by digital wellness platform Peppy found that 54% of UK businesses don’t have a menopause policy.

These findings come after a summer Women and Equalities Committee inquiry suggested greater legal protections for women going through menopause could be a possibility. Potential options include making menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

Analysis by multinational law firm Linklaters has also identified an increase in menopause-related discrimination leading to tribunals. The firm found that menopause was mentioned in 10 tribunal cases in the first half of 2021, up from five in 2018. In addition, Linklaters believes there are 49 finalised and published tribunal decisions that include allegations of menopause-related discrimination.

Briggs is also co-chair of the 50Plus Choices Employer Taskforce and the government’s business champion for older workers. A recent report from the Taskforce included several recommendations to employers to help them support employees going through menopause.

Among the recommendations were:

  • Nominating a menopause ambassador to work on behalf of government to represent the interests of those going through menopause
  • Develop a methodology to quantify the cost of menopause to individuals, businesses and the economy
  • Develop initiatives to enable conversations about the menopause to be normalised and provide practical help

Briggs added: “There is a very clear business case for supporting women to feel that they are valued in the workplace for longer and in ensuring that they can adapt how they work as they get older.

“Dropping out of the workplace early, due to factors such as the menopause or caring responsibilities, can have a significant impact on women’s financial futures.”

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