Supporting Employees During Menopause

You may have seen the recent news that the UK government has rejected committee recommendations to consult on making menopause a protected characteristic and pilot a workplace menopause leave policy in England. This is in response to Women and Equalities…

Blog26th Jan 2023

You may have seen the recent news that the UK government has rejected committee recommendations to consult on making menopause a protected characteristic and pilot a workplace menopause leave policy in England.

This is in response to Women and Equalities Committee of the House of Commons’ recommendation about the impact of women going through the menopause and how this affects them on a day to day basis in the workplace. It is estimated that between 75-80% of menopausal women are in work in the UK.

Regardless of government policy and the direction of legislation, it’s undoubtedly important to support your employees in workplace as much as is practically possible when their physical or mental health is affected.

There is already plenty of legislation to protect employees when they are suffering from ill health and it is important that life changes such as menopause are supported as much as any other health condition. Employees who feel supported by their manager and their employer are much more likely to be more effective and productive in the workplace as well as being happier and to take more pride in their work.

Menopause is becoming more commonly talked about but it is still a taboo subject that gets described as “women’s problems” and therefore one that many people feel uncomfortable to talk about or just don’t know how to approach. The biggest problem with this is that if you’re not approachable as an employer, the outcome is more likely to be that employees take more time off sick because they don’t feel there is any other option.

So how do you make your workplace a place that your female employees can feel comfortable to talk about menopause?

Some options include implementing a menopause policy, which not only lets your employees know you’re open to talking about the effects of menopause but also sets out how you expect your employees and managers to behave in supporting and managing employees who are menopausal.

There are also a number of free online resources to help you understand how better you can support your employees, such as ACAS and the CIPD.

It is also important to be careful about the language used in the workplace as being menopausal has long been used as a derogatory joke and educating line managers and employees to ensure this does not happen as it can be exceptionally intimidating and only increases the feeling of isolation and making women feel like they are not capable of doing their job, if they are affected by the symptoms of menopause.

There are also numerous measures that you can take to help women in the workplace who are suffering the symptoms of menopause including small and simple things such as helping provide a cooler place to work or temporarily adjusting working hours where a woman’s sleep is severely affected.

Menopause affects women in very different ways and the experience of each women can be different from the next. It’s therefore really important to create an environment where women can feel comfortable in having a private conversation about how they are affected and that they can feel supported in the workplace.

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