Almost one in three UK women expect to end careers early – poll

LONDON (Reuters) – Almost one in three female workers in Britain expect to stop working before reaching their retirement age with many citing health and well-being issues including the menopause, according to a survey published on Wednesday.

The British Standards Institution, which commissioned the survey, said the results showed the need for employers and the government to take steps to help older women remain in the labour market.

The poll of around 1,000 women aged over 18, which was conducted in May, found 29% expected to leave the workforce before retirement for reasons other than personal choice with 42% of them citing health or well-being and another fifth mentioning the menopause.

Caring responsibilities and a lack of flexibility in work were both cited as barriers to work by about one in five respondents.

“There are many factors that can lock women out of the workforce but there are also clear strategies to address this,” Anne Hayes, the BSI’s Director of Sectors said.

Those strategies included providing support for workers experiencing the menopause and steps in other areas such as working flexibly and breaking down stigma, Hayes said.

Britain is trying to boost the number of people in work after around half a million people left the workforce during the coronavirus pandemic, making it harder for employers to fill vacancies and helping to fuel the country’s high inflation rate.

Some 32% of British women aged 50 to 64 were not in work or seeking work in the first quarter of this year, compared with 22% of similarly aged men, official data shows. For men and women aged 25 to 34, the comparable rates were 16% and 8%.

The BSI did not survey men to see how their reasons for leaving the labour market as they age compared to women’s.

More than half of the women surveyed by BSI – which provides standards on a range of products and services – said it would be hard for them to raise issues including menopause with their employers and three fifths would feel uncomfortable bringing up health and wellbeing issues with a male manager.

(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by David Milliken)