Menopause in the Workplace

By Hannah Williamson
17 Nov 2021
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In an employment landscape marked by aging population, menopause at work needs to be acknowledged. When almost a million women have left their jobs due to menopause symptoms, a valid question arises:

Are employers doing enough to support these employees?

Research shows that three in five women were negatively affected at work by their menopause symptoms. This doesn’t only mean they struggled with changes that impact both their physical and mental health.  It also refers to lack of support and, even worse, ill treatment at work.

Polls have shown that as many as 13% of women said they were subjected to disciplinary procedures due to their symptoms.

It is no wonder that such data triggered a government inquiry. This happened shortly before staff won tribunal claims after being discriminated against because of their menopause struggles. See Rooney v Leicester City Council here.

Avoid similar tribunal claims, loss of productivity and motivation by asking Croner for advice on 01455 858 132.

Let us look next at what employers can do to gain better awareness and support their employees.

What is menopause?

The menopause is when a woman stops having periods. While this natural stage of ageing tends to happen around the age of 45 to 55, some women experience it earlier in life. Certain health conditions, as well as medical interventions and medication, can also trigger it.

When going through it, women experience symptoms such as:

  • Hot flushes
  • Repeated urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Mood changes
  • Difficulties with memory and concentration

Not every person will have the whole range of symptoms. Also, the intensity of each of the above differs from one woman to another.

Another aspect to bear in mind is that the length of menopause varies from one person to another. Symptoms can start months or years before a woman’s periods stop and can last for years after.

Menopause and work don’t need to clash in a woman’s life. Adequate support can make a real difference, when mixed with raising awareness and understanding.

How to positively manage menopause in the workplace 

Women’s health in general still tends to be perceived as a sensitive topic. Many women have seen such matters trivialised in the larger society. Understandably, it can feel embarrassing for employees to discuss menopause and the additional work stress with their managers.   

The existing data also highlights why women feel concerned about their difficulties. Many of them fear discrimination, ranging from being skipped for promotion to losing their jobs. Under the circumstances, they might deny what they are going through, and avoid seeking support.

Menopause in the workplace

At a time when women should be reaching a peak point in their career, they instead find themselves overlooked. All of this will not only negatively impact them, but it can also detrimentally affect business operations.

Mismanaging menopause in the workplace can lead to:

  • Increased turnover
  • Understaffing due to skill gaps and loss of experienced employees
  • Reduced productivity
  • Low staff morale
  • Low internal growth opportunities

Potentially, mistreating employees due to lack of awareness could lead to costly tribunal claims for discrimination. Remember that, even if you as an employer are doing everything right, other employees could harass and discriminate against their colleagues.

Offering adequate support to your workforce and menopause workplace guidelines could benefit your business by:

  • Increasing staff retention
  • Reducing recruitment expenses
  • Improving productivity, happiness and wellbeing
  • Ensuring a more diverse workforce

How to promote inclusiveness and support your staff

Let us look at how your business can become more inclusive and supportive of employees who experience it.

Menopause at work

One way to start raising awareness about menopause at work is by learning from positive examples. Companies such as Santander and Tesco have gained recognition for offering practical support and advice to their employees. Other businesses joined in and took the Menopause Workplace Pledge launched by Wellbeing of Women charity.

These companies can inspire employers such as you to learn from what they are doing right. You can also start by applying any of the following steps inside your business:

  • Adapt the workplace environment (away from heaters, with increased ventilation) and items such as uniforms (breathable fabric).
  • Include a menopause policy in the workplace.
  • Train your staff to enhance their awareness and understanding.
  • Appoint champions to play the role of first point of contact for employees who struggle.
  • Offer menopause awareness events.

Also, keep yourself updated on menopause and employment law. While UK law does not specifically identify menopause as a disability, we could see future changes that companies need to include in their policies. See the above mentioned 2021 case law.

Call Croner for free advice

If your employees struggle with menopause and work stress, your business risks loss of productivity and high turnover. You also risk age discrimination and harassment tribunal claims raised either against the company or other employees.

You can avoid such risks by increasing awareness and inclusivity, as well as supporting your staff. Through our employee assistance programme, you gain access to assessments and counselling for your workforce.

Call us today to find out how we can support you and your employees, on 01455 858 132.

 

About the Author

Hannah Williamson is a CIPD Qualified HR professional with over 10 years’ experience in generalist HR management working within the Manufacturing Industry.

Working for a Global manufacturer provided Hannah with the opportunity to work in America and across Europe supporting HR functions and the wider business.

Hannah is Croner’s Advice Manager, taking responsibility for overseeing the provision of advice to all Croner clients, bringing together our Corporate, Simplify and Association service provisions.

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