Menopause in the workplace UK

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Health Assured team

22 August 2019

What’s the fastest-growing segment of the workforce in the UK & Ireland? If you said ‘women over 50,’ well done.

Most women will experience menopausal symptoms during their working life. And according to CIPD research, three out of five women experiencing these symptoms say it has a negative impact on their work.

At any one time, this means that it’s statistically likely that someone in your organisation is experiencing these symptoms, and the negative effects on their work. And while menopause is often hidden away, regarded as ‘the ultimate taboo,’ it’s vital that you take steps to understand the menopause—and how good menopause in the workplace policy can help ease the difficulties.

What is the menopause?

The menopause is a natural part of ageing that all women experience, usually between 45 and 55 years of age, when their oestrogen levels decline. As a result, a woman will stop having periods, and will no longer be able to conceive without medical help.

It can cause some signs and symptoms, including:

  • Low mood, anxiety, depression & memory loss
  • Disturbed sleep patterns & night sweats
  • Hot flushes
  • Headaches

This is a natural part of life. And while to some, it may seem inconvenient or problematic to deal with, it’s vital that employers understand how to consider those going through the menopause—after all, as mentioned earlier, older women are making up more and more of the workforce.

Managing menopause in the workplace

It’s the responsibility of an employer to ensure that the symptoms of menopause are acknowledged and taken into consideration. This is part of the duty of care.

Menopause in the workplace Acas guidance states that the Equality Act 2010 applies to women experiencing menopause. And further, the Health & Safety Act 1974 states that employers must ensure health, safety & welfare at work.

Acas’ menopause in the workplace guidelines are a good basis for your own menopause in the workplace policy.

Menopause policy in the workplace

Here are some examples of what such a policy should contain, and how it’ll help you manage the menopause in the workplace:

  • Open, honest communication: your staff should be able to speak about any issue, not just menopause—but menopause is very important. Don’t make it the focus of a communication plan, but make sure people know that it’s okay to approach a manager with issues.
  • Confidentiality: once someone brings up menopause, that conversation needs to be completely confidential. Your employees should know that they can trust your organisation with personal details and problems.
  • Understanding: training on the law around menopause at work, and how to sensitively handle conversations is a must.

Menopause support in the workplace

According to the CIPD, one in four menopausal women say they don’t get the support they need from their manager. Also, the Faculty of Occupational Health (FOM) has found that most working women are unwilling to disclose menopause-related health problems to line managers.

Clearly, not enough is being done to help make employees feel comfortable discussing health concerns. However, there are several benefits to the effective management of team members with menopausal symptoms.

Not only will it help you cultivate a working culture of acceptance, but it will help you to improve your team’s morale, keep valuable talent, and reduce sickness absence.

To help you develop positive workplace wellbeing, we have listed several ‘dos and don’ts’ when supporting an employee experiencing the menopause:

Do

  • Educate yourself: Gain a greater understanding of the menopause by doing some research on the subject. By becoming more knowledgeable on the issue, you may find that you will become more approachable.
  • Build relationships: Asking your team members how they are feeling and conducting regular ‘check-ins’ can provide them with an appropriate platform for them to voice their concerns.
  • Reasonable adjustments: Making reasonable adjustments for those suffering from menopausal symptoms can do wonders for employee morale. For example, altering their working hours.

Don’t

  • Make assumptions: Every person in your team is different - so treat them as individuals.
  • Be embarrassed: Raising a health issue to a manager can be an anxiety-inducing experience - especially if the senior staff member is the opposite sex. Approach conversations with empathy, and try not to be embarrassed by the issue.
  • Offer medical advice: Provide a compassionate ear if a health issue is raised, but avoid diagnosing the issue yourself.

Get support with employee wellbeing with Health Assured

Life is full of challenges, with the menopause being one of them. By having a safe workplace where these issues can be discussed, employee wellbeing will thrive. This will allow you to properly plan workloads for employee’s and retain your best staff members.

Create a healthy work environment and engage your team members by setting an example. One way you can do this is by having an Employee Assistance Programme, which improves wellbeing. Our EAP also comes with a wellbeing app, which employees can use whenever to access wellbeing resources.

If you need advice on how to manage a hostile employee through an EAP, call us today on <a class="rulertel" href="tel:08448910352">0844 891 0352</a>.

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