Managing the menopause in the workplace can be a little tricky. It’s important to remember that symptoms can vary from person to person but support should always be available to anyone going through the perimenopause or menopause.
On the back of Menopause Awareness month in October, we discuss how managers can support these employees. Organisations should provide policies and frameworks to help employees get the support they need and equip those in management roles with the knowledge and skills to sufficiently understand the impact on their employees and their performance levels?
What is the Menopause?
The menopause is a natural cycle for most people who menstruate, signaling the end of the menstrual cycle. It triggers hormonal changes causing the body’s oestrogen levels to decrease. Likely to occur between the ages of 45 – 55 years old and lasting around 8 years. However, the transition period known as the perimenopausal period, is believed to begin several years earlier.
Symptoms typically include:
- Hot flushes and/or night sweats
- Anxiety and Depression
- Dizziness and Fatigue
- Headaches and Memory loss
- Aches and Pains and Joint Stiffness
- Reduced concentration
- Heavy periods
Supporting the wellbeing of your employees
A CIPD study of over 2,000 people aged 40-60 years old employed in the UK, found 53% of respondents were able to think of a time when they were unable to go into work due to their menopause symptoms. The study also found around one in six people have considered leaving work due to a lack of support in relation to their symptoms. A further 6% have left work altogether.
Employers have a duty of care to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees. Though not a protected characteristic, if an employee is put at a disadvantage or treated less favourably due to their menopausal symptoms, this could lead to a discrimination case. However, with the difficulties and lack of information surrounding the menopause, it’s not surprising that most just leave employment.
Employers can champion wellbeing by adopting a forward-thinking mindset and introducing a Menopause Policy to retain valuable employees.
The importance of a Menopause Policy
A clear and succinct Menopause Policy is instrumental in ensuring that relevant frameworks are devised to tackle the issue at hand and for employees to know what is available to them and how to access the support. CIPD maintains that the support available to people with menopause should be the same as that of anyone else with a health condition. Every employee has a right to work in a stigma-free environment ensuring that no one is subjected to suffer in silence.
A Health and Safety Risk Assessment will also ensure that work conditions do not exacerbate an already difficult situation. The Menopause Policy should be rolled out to the whole business and effectively communicated. This ensures everyone is aware that this policy exists along with regular reviews to ensure legal compliance.
An effective Menopause Policy should include:
- Training to increase awareness and ensure successful implementation
- Absence management procedures and workplace adjustments such as adequate temperature control, dress code, flexible working, changes to duties, and regular breaks if needed
- How to report concerns and who to approach to discuss symptoms
- Signposting EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) and Mental Health First Aiders for further help and assistance
- Highlight external organisations and their contact details for further assistance. eg. Menopause Matters, Daisy Network, Menopause Café, etc.
Training and Support for Managers
A key element of implementing a successful Menopause Policy is ensuring that managers are sufficiently trained and upskilled. The main areas that must be addressed in training are:
- The law in relation to menopause
- How to effectively communicate with employees
- Understanding the processes and how to obtain helpful information
- Workplace changes that can be implemented to help employees
- How to remain sensitive and fair
- Understanding gender identity and how it is linked to menopause
Ultimately, employers should be aware that menopause is a sensitive issue and it should be addressed with the utmost care and sympathy to encourage an inclusive working environment.
Employee wellbeing is paramount to successfully managing the menopause in the workplace, along with a comprehensive Menopause Policy and adequate training and support for managers, to ensure resources are available when they are needed.
If you need help with drafting a Menopausal Policy or any other HR related issues, please contact us on 0345 076 2288 or complete the form below