Menopause In The Workplace
Menopause In the Workplace
Companies should be committed to providing an inclusive and supportive working environment for all staff, this includes supporting menopause in the workplace.
CIPD guidance recognises that the menopause is an important gender and age equality issue, and should be part of an organisations approach to developing inclusive workplaces, supporting women’s progression at work throughout their employment cycle.
If women experiencing menopause are treated detrimentally because of menopause symptoms, it could potentially give rise to sex and age discrimination.
Therefore, as part of an overall wellness policy, companies should consider how they will support their staff who are experiencing symptoms associated with menopause or perimenopause, through the implementation of a Menopause Policy.
Aim of a menopause policy
The aim of a menopause policy is to support staff experiencing menopause in the workplace and help them to minimise the impact it can have on them in the workplace.
The menopause policy should inform staff and managers about the potential symptoms of menopause, what the potential consequences can be and what support is available to them. The policy will help support those experiencing menopause in the workplace, keeping talented females in the workplace.
Companies should aim to create an environment where staff feel confident enough to raise issues about their symptoms and ask for reasonable adjustments at work, a menopause policy is a step in creating this environment.
Line manager's role in implementing the menopause policy
Line managers will play an important role in the implementation of the menopause policy, and they should make sure that they understand the Menopause Policy and supporting guidance.
They should help staff experiencing the menopause to feel supported, and to be effective in their role and ensure staff are aware of sources of help and support available to them, from both internal and external sources.
Line managers should be trained on having open discussions with staff and to treat the conversation sensitively and professionally. They should be aware of sources of support for staff and be understanding and make fair decisions, with respect to requests for reasonable adjustments.
It is important to bear in mind that a ‘one size fits all’ approach will be counterproductive as each person experiencing the menopause will have different symptoms and levels of severity, for varying lengths of time.
Line managers should ensure ongoing dialogue and review arrangements regularly to check that any reasonable adjustments agreed remain appropriate and adequate and seek further advice from an Occupational Health & well-being service if required.
Having a well-thought-out menopause policy within the workplace will give employees the necessary tools to feel confident in approaching their line managers when dealing with menopause in the workplace, taking away the fear and worry of speaking openly about their symptoms in a safe environment.
Menopause recommendations to UK government in 2023
Accepted the recommendation for menopause ambassador
The recommendations were submitted to the UK Government to appoint a Menopause ambassador. The ambassador would train and help business stakeholders to understand the best practices and disseminate awareness regarding menopause.
This recommendation was accepted, and the ambassador will work alongside the Women’s Health Ambassador limiting the duplication of workloads.
The main aim of appointing a menopause ambassador is to raise awareness of menopause in the workplace.
Rejected model menopause policies
Alongside appointing a menopause ambassador, it was recommended to consult with the ambassador to develop “model menopause policies” covering reasonable adjustments requests, sick leave as a result of menopause symptoms, and training to create a supportive workplace.
However, the Government felt this was not necessary, they felt the more effective measure is to highlight relevant policies within their industry, which allows the business to tailor the policies to business needs.
Rejected menopause leave
The UK Government was also asked to trial a “menopause leave policy” with the aim of supporting women experiencing menopausal symptoms making working difficult. This trial was to start with large public sector employers and roll out after 12 months.
Unfortunately, the government rejected this recommendation, stating they don’t believe it is necessary. The Government’s core focus is to encourage employers to develop and carry out menopause policies with best practices and other support measures including flexible working. The UK Government feels “menopause leave” would be “counterproductive” for achieving their goal for employers to implement better menopause policies.
- Inclusive workplaces: Companies should be dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment, and supporting all staff, including those experiencing menopause.
- Equality issue: CIPD views menopause as a critical gender and age equality matter, emphasising the importance of inclusivity throughout women’s employment cycle.
- Potential discrimination: Mistreating women due to menopausal symptoms might lead to allegations of sex and age discrimination.
- Menopause policy: A crucial component of a broader wellness strategy should be the creation and implementation of a Menopause Policy to support staff experiencing menopausal symptoms.
- Policy aims: The policy aims to inform and assist employees and managers about menopause, its potential impact, and the available support.
- Role of line managers: Line managers are instrumental in the policy’s success. They need to be well-informed, trained for sensitive discussions and must provide consistent support to affected staff.
- Individual needs: Recognise the varied symptoms and experiences of individuals. A ‘one size fits all’ approach isn’t effective.
- UK Government’s stance: The recommendation for a Menopause Ambassador was accepted to raise awareness. However, suggestions for model menopause policies and a specific menopause leave policy were declined.
- Support available: Businesses can seek assistance in formulating a menopause policy and navigating related challenges through HR consultancy services.
FAQs for Menopause in the workplace
Menopause can lead to a range of symptoms such as fatigue, memory issues, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, and hot flashes. These symptoms can potentially impact an individual’s focus, productivity, attendance, and overall job performance.
A menopause policy outlines a company’s approach to support employees experiencing menopausal symptoms, ensuring an informed and inclusive workplace environment.
Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive working environment. This includes being aware of menopause as a potential workplace issue, offering support and reasonable adjustments for affected employees, ensuring managers are trained on the topic, and addressing any related discrimination or harassment.
Before making adjustments, a manager should engage in a sensitive and confidential discussion with the employee to understand their specific needs and seek guidance from HR or occupational health if necessary.
Reasonable adjustments for menopause can include providing fans or better ventilation, flexible working hours, regular breaks, access to cold water, and private rest spaces. Additionally, employers can offer training for managers to be supportive and understanding, ensure easy access to restroom facilities, and allow temporary alternative role to less physically demanding roles if needed.
As of January 2022, menopause is not explicitly a protected characteristic under the UK’s Equality Act 2010. However, related discrimination might fall under age or sex protections.
As of January 2022, post-menopause itself is not universally recognised as a disability in the UK. However, severe symptoms could potentially be viewed as a disability under specific circumstances.
Menopause matters in the workplace because it affects a significant portion of the workforce. Addressing its symptoms ensures well-being, promotes gender and age equality, retains talent, reduces absenteeism, and fosters a supportive and inclusive work environment.
How we can help your business with a menopause policy
Our team of HR consultants can help your business implement a menopause policy that safeguards your business and helps support your employees experiencing the menopause symptoms. Our HR consultants can also assist you through any employee issues relating to menopause and identify reasonable adjustments.
Menopause has been called to become a protected characteristic in the UK under the Equality Act by MP’s in July 2022, and getting ahead of this and implementing a menopause policy is highly recommended.
Building a supportive culture for Menopause in the Workplace
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