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Menopause in the Workplace: World Menopause Day, 18 October

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

There are some things that rarely get talked about in the workplace.

Not so many years ago people rarely spoke of mental health issues and LBGTQ was not even in the vocabulary. As 50% of the population is female, it’s surprising that the menopause is still something rarely spoken of.

Here are a few facts that should make all employers start thinking more about the subject. Did you know:

  • the fastest-growing sector in the workplace is women over the age of 50?
  • the menopause and peri-menopause symptoms occur mainly in women between the ages of 45 – 55 or that some experience effects at a younger age with 1 in 100 people experiencing the menopause before the age of 40?
  • members of the transgender, non-binary and intersex communities also suffer from menopause and perimenopause symptoms?
  • 47% of women who have taken a day off work due to menopause symptoms have told their employer that it is for a different reason?

No surprises if you have answered “no” to some of these questions.

The menopause is still a largely taboo subject in the workplace. Sadly, it’s still often seen as “women’s problems” or treated as a joke to cover up embarrassment.

71.4% of Britain’s women over the age of 16 being in employment, and there is an increase in tribunal claims where menopause awareness within the workplace should be better. Certainly, given the reports of significant skills gaps, getting your organisation’s approach right can only help stem the loss of these employees who would otherwise be unable to put up with the effects of their symptoms in the workplace.

Events such as World Menopause Day (18 October) and the Wellbeing of Women & Hello pledge of support which employers can sign up to are designed to improve awareness.

What can your organisation do?

  1. Consider implementing a Menopause Policy or a Health and Wellbeing Policy which includes a designated section on the Menopause. These policies can both provide a source of information about the menopause and the support that the organisation offers to those suffering the effects as well as provide general guidance for all.
  2. Train your managers to understand and sensitively deal with those employees suffering with the menopause. It is also important that managers ensure other team members’ behaviours towards those suffering from the effects of menopause are appropriate.
  3. Check appropriate communication channels are in place so that employees may raise menopause related issues with line managers more readily – communication is often essential for heading off potential problems.
    a. Some symptoms can be psychological – low mood, irritability, anxiety, lack of confidence and issues with memory and/or concentration; these symptoms can be exacerbated by sleeping difficulties that can be menopause associated. Other symptoms can be physiological – for example, stiff joints, dizzy spells, headaches. If an employer is not aware that an employee has menopause symptoms that are impacting on their work it can lead to all sorts of issues from long term sickness, performance processes and, in some instances, the loss of the employee.
  4. Check work environments are suitable – for example, make sure your employee has access to a fan and/or fresh air and a supply of cold water. If uniforms are mandatory, is the material suitable or can changes be made to help with alleviating symptoms?

If you have any questions about how to deal with this or any other employment law situation please give a member of our team a call as they will be happy to provide some guidance.

Hazel Taylor

Posted:

Hazel Taylor

Paralegal

Hazel is often the first point of contact for clients of the employment team. She is a paralegal in our employment team having worked previously in both the Commercial Litigation and Company & Commercial teams as a legal secretary.