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Menopause in the Workplace: An Employers Guide

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

There are some things that are rarely 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. Over the past few years this has dramatically changed; and so too, now, is the menopause.

Here are a few facts that are likely to have made more employers think about the subject.

  • 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; however some experience its effects at a younger age with 1 in 100 people experiencing the menopause before the age of 40.
  • It’s not just affecting those who identify as women; members of the transgender, non-binary and intersex communities also suffer from menopause and peri-menopause symptoms.
  • 47% of those who have taken a day off work due to menopause symptoms have told their employer that it is for a different reason.

It’s no surprise if you were unaware of some or all of those facts.

This is because, despite its recent increase in column inches, the menopause is a largely taboo subject in the workplace. Sadly, it’s still often seen as “women’s problems” or treated as a joke by those suffering from its symptoms to cover up their embarrassment.

But there are signs that this is starting to change. And so it should; and that’s not just because of the facts above or because of the marked increase in tribunal claims which are menopause related. With employers considering how to both retain their current workforce and attract candidates to address resource needs, getting your organisation’s approach right can only help stem the loss of some employees who might otherwise be unable to put up with the effects of their symptoms in the workplace.

Easy changes your organisation can make :

  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. 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?
  5. Participate in events such as World Menopause Day (18 October) and/or sign up to the Wellbeing of Women & Hello’s pledge of support  – both are designed to improve awareness.
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.