A Guide to Providing Menopause Support at Work
Why is it Important to Support Those Dealing With Menopause in the Workplace?
Research suggests that 1 in 10 women leave their job due to the symptoms of perimenopause or menopause in the workplace. Whether this is due to a lack of support or fears of not being able to cope with the symptoms, it’s a figure that needs to change. Whilst the subject used to be taboo, we have made great progress in raising awareness. But, the time has come to change the way in which we support those dealing with menopause in the workplace.
In July 2022 the Women and Equalities Committee called for the government to introduce a number of measures including introducing “menopause” as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. This means that employers would have a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for menopausal employees.
However, the government’s response was not exactly what women were hoping for. They responded with their view that menopause is afforded protection by other characteristics such as sex, age and disability. Therefore, they chose not to introduce menopause as a standalone protected characteristic within the Equality Act of 2010.
So, whilst there has been no legislative change, employers are now encouraged to facilitate a better understanding of menopause in the workplace and to have a more open dialogue about it.
What is the Menopause?
Menopause is a natural period in a woman’s life where periods stop due to lower hormone levels, typically occurring between the ages of 45 and 55. Although, sometimes it can happen earlier.
Perimenopause is when you experience symptoms before your periods have stopped, and a woman reaches menopause when she does not have a period for 12 months.
The typical symptoms of menopause and perimenopause include:
Anxiety and mood swings
Problems with sleep
Chills and night sweats
The symptoms of menopause and perimenopause vary significantly and are individual to each woman.
What Can I Do as an Employer?
We at HR:4UK have supported thousands of employers to help better support their staff. So, here are 4 practical ways to help your staff deal with the effects of menopause at work.
Have a Menopause Policy
Having a clear menopause policy will set out your approach to dealing with menopause and will be material to refer back to.
Having such a policy will set out your organisation’s approach to female, trans and non-binary members of staff experiencing symptoms of menopause in the workplace. This should detail what support employees can expect during this period.
Raise Awareness and Train Staff
It is not just women that should be made aware of menopause. In fact, one of the best ways that you can support those dealing with menopause in the workplace is to educate and train all your staff.
Breaking down the taboo nature of menopause is integral to providing people with the support they need. So, ensure that managers and employees have a clear understanding of what menopause is and how it may affect individuals. Without an understanding of menopause and its symptoms, managers will fail to effectively assess adjustments that need to be made.
If they want to be, it is a good idea to involve employees in the support you provide. By appointing one or more employees as ‘Menopause Champions’, you can promote the dialogue about menopause from within.
The ‘Champions’ would be able to direct employees to the best resources and support, ensuring that each individual is getting what they need. As well, your employees may find a ‘Champion’ to be more accessible and approachable when discussing menopause.
When providing menopause support at work, employers should consider making adjustments to suit the needs of those experiencing symptoms. This will help your employees to still perform at their best whilst experiencing menopause or perimenopause.
Creating a Comfortable Working Environment
This should be done to ensure a comfortable work day for those experiencing symptoms of menopause. As an employer you could:
- Provide a quiet rest area
- Provide a fan if requested
- Ensure that there are temperature-controlled zones within your workspace
- Give easy access to bathroom facilities on each floor
Be Flexible With Working Arrangements
If you want to best support those dealing with menopause in the workplace, you should consider being flexible with your working arrangements. This might include allowing increased working from home, later starts, or even just being flexible if someone needs to attend a medical appointment.
Conduct Risk Assessments
As mentioned previously, it is important to treat every person suffering from menopause symptoms as an individual, as everyone is different.
With this in mind, it’s a good idea to conduct risk assessments of each individual and make the appropriate adjustments accordingly.
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A qualified employment law solicitor and our managing director, Angela has unparalleled legal expertise and decades of experience and knowledge to draw from. She’s a passionate speaker and writer that loves to keep employers updated with upcoming changes to legislation, and is a regular guest speaker on BBC Leicester Radio.