“It shows how far women’s rights have to go” (Photo: Delivered/Metro.co.uk)

When Chantelle Znideric started experiencing symptoms of perimenopause at age 38, she cried every day.

She had “terrible” periods, with only four days a month without bleeding, and the night sweats soaked her sheets.

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“The thought of doing simple daily tasks with brain fog and memory loss made me feel like a complete failure,” says the personal stylist, who is now 44 and lives in Devon.

“I had uncontrollable tantrums — like PMT on steroids — and a huge amount of negativity that was pervasive.”

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She is therefore frustrated that ministers have rejected a proposal from the Women and Equality Committee to test ‘menopausal leave’ in England.

Chantelle Znideric (Photo: Rosie Parsons Photography)

The government report released on Tuesday also rejects a recommendation to make menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act – if it leads to discrimination against men.

It suggests that these proposed changes could lead to “unintended consequences that could inadvertently create new forms of discrimination, such as risks of discrimination for men suffering from long-term illnesses”.

Instead, the government said it wants to encourage employers to implement various menopause policies in the workplace.

Like Chantelle, about 1 in 100 women experience perimenopause symptoms before age 40. Although we often use the phrase “menopause” colloquially, technically a woman has not reached “menopause” until she has gone a year without a period.

The stretch that precedes it — called perimenopause — can be debilitating, and symptoms often coincide with a woman’s career peak.

The effect is shocking. According to a study published last year by Bupa, around one million women in the UK have been forced to leave their jobs because of perimenopause/menopausal symptoms.

Chantelle, who has reduced her hours due to symptoms, thinks she would have benefited greatly from a transitional leave to “stop the wheels for a few months and start again”.

“I felt like I couldn’t handle my schedule and I remember having to cancel meetings when I was at my worst,” she says. “It was a terrible feeling not to feel good enough.”

Do you think women should be entitled to transitional leave?answer now

For Claire Hattrick, a Hampshire beautician, the symptoms of perimenopause from the age of 39 were characterized by severe joint pain.

“Trying to wax someone’s legs and manicure their nails when you have excruciating pain in your elbows, knees and hips was virtually impossible,” she tells Metro.co.uk.

“I used to jump from one leg to the other without my client seeing to relieve the pain. I often lie on the floor between clients and cry in pain.”

Claire Hatrick

Claire hat-trick (Photo: John Nguyen/JNVisuals)

Claire, now 55, says she “lost 10 years off her life” due to debilitating menopausal symptoms and reduced her hours at the salon so she now works part-time.

In her spare time, she’s started a blog to help other women cope with menopause, and she thinks an officially recognized vacation would help.

“Every day, women tell me they love their jobs but feel they are letting others down when it comes to brainwashing,” she says. “They also tell me that they feel they have no support in the workplace and that they have no choice but to work fewer hours or leave! This is so unnecessary!”

Lauren Chiren, 53, from Bristol, has also been inspired by her own bad experiences to help the next generation of menopausal women.

In her early forties, she quit her corporate job as head of transformation for a large construction company because she thought she was suffering from early onset dementia. She now knows that the memory loss was related to menopause.

‘On the one hand [I felt] relieved, I no longer had work stress,” she says about her dismissal. “But on the other hand [I felt] Afraid because I literally lost all self-confidence and self-esteem and was afraid that I would never be able to work as a single parent again.”

Lauren Chiren

Lauren Chiren (Photo: Included)

At first, Lauren took a smaller part-time job at a school to help her get back on her feet.

She thinks if her company had been on transitional leave, she would have put two and two together earlier and looked for solutions.

On the other hand, she has now founded Women Of A Certain Stage, an organization that works with employers around the world to help them become more transition-friendly.

FYI, you still have some legal protections if menopause affects your job:

Introducing a contractual entitlement to transitional leave could help affected workers, said Kate Palmer, director of human resource consulting and consulting at Peninsula.

But if your workplace isn’t open to it, all is not lost: you still have some protection.

“While menopause will not be a separately protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, employers should remember that affected female workers are still covered by existing characteristics,” she explains.

First, any medical condition, including menopause, can be considered a disability under the Equality Act if its symptoms have a significant and long-lasting impact on the worker’s ability to perform normal daily activities. Because menopause only affects women and women identified as female at birth, the restriction of an employee due to a woman’s health condition may amount to discrimination or harassment based on gender.”

Contact your human resources department, labor union or citizen advisory for help dealing with potential workplace discrimination issues.

In addition to transitional leave for blue-collar workers, Maria Jones, a 45-year-old yoga teacher from Aberdeen, wants better support for the self-employed.

Among other things, she began to experience fatigue at the age of 40 and had to stop energy classes and adjust her schedule.

“I was driving back from an evening yoga class once and felt my eyes close as I drove,” she says.

“The brain fog made it extremely confusing to drive in the dark. One day, on my way back from my son’s soccer practice, a traffic accident diverted traffic onto side roads. I started crying when I finally got home that night…”

Mary Jones

Maria Jones (Photo: Provided)

Thankfully, things are much better since she started hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but she says getting a prescription from her doctor hasn’t been easy. handle instructions.

Metro.co.uk contacted both the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department of Work and Pensions about the latest government report on menopause and future plans to support women.

In response, a government spokesman said they recognize menopause can be a “challenging time for women”, adding that they have “put women’s health high on the agenda as part of the first-ever Women’s Health Strategy for England”.

“We are carrying out an ambitious work program with the NHS to improve menopausal care so that all women have access to the support they need,” the spokesperson added.

“We encourage employers to be compassionate and flexible in responding to their employees’ needs, and we are committed to supporting more flexible work patterns – we’ve talked about making flexible working the norm unless employers have a good reason have not to do that.” .”

That does not reassure women like Lauren, who described the government’s latest move as “extremely frustrating, disappointing and short-sighted”.

“It shows how far women’s rights still have to go,” she says. “We spent so much time giving evidence to Parliament, writing and speaking to MPs, and for what?”