Menopause in the Workplace

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The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) recently surveyed 1,409 women between 45 and 55 and 60% of them said that their felt that their work was negatively impacted by the menopause. The menopause can last up to 4 years with side effects varying with each individual. These include hot flushes, night sweats and sleep disturbance. In addition to the physical side effects, many women can struggle with psychological and emotional issues, such as lack of concentration, reduced confidence, anxiety, embarrassment, mood swings and memory loss.

Feeling tired, unwell and stressed can impact our performance at work on the best of days, but imagine feeling that way for up to 4 years. The effects on the employee and the Company can be cumulative, just like any other sickness or occupational health issue which can impact productivity, sickness levels and performance.

For generations, the menopause has been taboo or the source of jokes. With more and more women working well into their 60’s, employers should be aware of the extra support that should be put in place for the welfare of their employees. The menopause is covered under The Equality Act 2010 and cases have been successfully brought to tribunal on the grounds of age, gender or disability discrimination. It is therefore advisable that employers take relevant steps to acknowledge and incorporate it into their procedures and policies.

Here are some reasonable steps that can be taken:
  • Incorporate menopause into the sickness and absence policy to accommodate symptoms and time off.
  • Including menopause into policies and procedures will show that the Company has a positive attitude towards the issue. This will help remove the stigma as well as provide a sense of support for those who need it.
  • If a female employee is calling in sick with menopause symptoms, allow them to call a female Manager if possible, to save them some embarrassment.
  • Allow a certain amount of time off during working hours for medical appointments.
  • Consider flexible working requests. As an example, adjusting working hours with a later start could work to counteract sleepless nights.
  • Educate and train Managers on the subject of the menopause, how it can affect work and adjustments that can be made.
  • Offer workplace guidance on how women can deal with the menopause at work. This can be done by allocating someone women can go to if they are not comfortable talking to their Manager. Encouraging communication and addressing issues early on could reduce absence and feelings that could snowball into a bigger issue.
  • Ensure that employees are able to take regular comfort breaks.
  • Consider adaptations to uniform if you have one.
  • Look at reasonable adjustments such as allocating a desk nearer a window or providing fans.
  • Carry out risk assessments on the working environment with the view to making reasonable adjustments.

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