Menopause in the Workplace

 

With women over the age of fifty being the fastest growing segment of the workforce, there has been a call for greater focus on menopause policies in the workplace. However, despite being an inevitability for half the UK workforce, the menopause remains an unspoken taboo subject. This means that the need to break down barriers and end the stigma surrounding menopause is half of the task alone.

The drive for more awareness of the menopause, its potential side effects and how employers can set in place specific policies in order to improve working conditions for those effected is already becoming more prominent. In October 2019, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), launched its manifesto entitled menopause at work, pushing for the Government to act. According to a study by the CIPD, 59% of women in the workplace who experience menopausal symptoms say it has a negative impact on their work. This is an outstanding figure and one which “Menopause Policies” may considerably reduce if employers act constructively.

The menopause is a natural stage of life for women, most commonly between their late forties and early fifties. However, some start experiencing symptoms much earlier. Often, symptoms last between four to eight years. Common symptoms of the menopause include hot flushes, migraines, memory loss, muscle and joint pains, difficulty sleeping and irregular, heavier periods or loss of concentration. When this is combined with a stressful working environment, more detrimental and serious effects may develop. Menopausal women have reported a loss of confidence and mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression as a direct result.

Menopause is not just an issue for women. All staff should be aware of the menopause so that they can support those going through it or otherwise affected by it.
Menopause policies are a straightforward way to ensure that there is support in place for these women. Policies may include the implementation of mandatory training for managers to undertake, and usually are put in place simply to open the dialogue and conversations about the menopause.
Policies should also potentially provide for risk assessments to ensure that no aspect of the working environment worsens any menopausal symptoms. The policy should also provide for possible adjustments or support to put in place for menopausal women.

These adjustments may include:

  • Temperature control
  • Provisions of electric fans
  • Access to rest facilities
  • Flexible working
  • Home working
  • Condensed hours
  • More frequent rest breaks
  • Changes to work allocations

Managers should be trained to ensure that they have greater knowledge and understanding on menopause. This would create a safe and healthy environment adaptable to certain side effects and would allow managers to undertake sensitive conversations with such individuals, offering support for individuals where needed.

Channel 4 is the first known company within the media sector that has introduced and enforced their own menopause policy in order to end the stigma. An especially interesting aspect of this policy is the introduction of menopause awareness briefings. The policy also supports employees experiencing menopausal symptoms by giving them access to flexible working arrangements, with paid leave, if they feel unwell because of side effects.

Although these policies are relatively straight forward, they offer support and reduce stress for many women experiencing the menopause, or those who may be nervous about experiencing it in the future. Preventing stress and discomfort in the workplace allows employees to produce their best work and more importantly, thrive in their workplace.
Here at Thrive, we can draft menopause policies for your business. We can also advise employees on what support they may be able to request and what their rights are. If you have any further questions, please contact us on enquiries@thrivelaw.co.uk

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This page is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Created by The Thrive Tribe

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