Menopause Policy in the workplace

24/08/2021
Neil McLeese, BeyondHR. CREDIT: LiamMcArdle.com

WOMEN account for more than 50% of the UK labour market and a recent ONS survey shows that 72% of females aged 16-64 are employed, it’s only right that companies need to be committed to providing an inclusive and supportive working environment for all staff.  

CIPD guidance recognises that menopause is a significant gender and age-equality issue and should be part of any organisation’s approach to developing inclusive workplaces that support women’s progression at work throughout their employment.  

Most women will experience some symptoms during menopause. The duration and severity of these symptoms vary from woman to woman, but common symptoms may include hot flushes, palpitations, difficulty sleeping, mood changes, headaches, and problems with memory and concentration. 

If women experiencing menopause symptoms are treated detrimentally it could potentially give rise to sex and age discrimination. According to data from Menopause Experts Group, there were 16 tribunals that cited a claimant’s menopause last year, up from six in 2019 and five in 2018.  

Shockingly, the first six months of 2021 has already seen 10 cases that reference menopause. 

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.  

  • A menopause policy aims to support staff experiencing menopause and help them to minimise the impact it can have on them in the workplace.  
  • The policy should inform staff and managers about the potential symptoms of menopause, what support is available to them and the issues that may arise if not managed appropriately  
  • Companies should aim to create an environment where staff feel confident enough to raise issues about their symptoms and ask for adjustments at work.  

Line managers will play an important role in the implementation of this policy, and they should make sure that they understand the Menopause Policy and supporting guidance. They should help staff experiencing menopause to feel supported, to be effective in their role and ensure staff are aware of the sources of help and support available to them, from both internal and external sources.  

It is vital that Line managers are trained on having open discussions and can treat the conversations sensitively and professionally. They should be aware of sources of staff support, be understanding and make fair decisions concerning requests for reasonable adjustments.  

It is important to bear in mind that a “one size fits all” approach is inappropriate. Each person experiencing 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. They should also be able to seek further advice from an Occupational Health and Wellbeing 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 on such personal topics. It removes the fear and worry of speaking openly about their symptoms within a safe environment. 

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