What is the menopause?
The menopause is a natural part of ageing which affects most women and also trans and non-binary people who may not identify as women.
The average age for the menopause in the UK is 51 although it can happen a lot earlier. It is often preceded by the perimenopause which can involve similar symptoms to the menopause.
The menopause affects each person uniquely and in various ways. Its symptoms can include, but are not limited to:
- hot flushes
- difficulty sleeping
- mood swings
- memory loss
- reduced concentration
- muscle pain; and
The Women and Equalities Committee of the House of Commons conducted a survey in September 2021 of over 2000 people relating to their experience of menopause in the workplace. It found that the majority of respondents reported that menopause symptoms affected them at work, including a loss of ability to concentrate, increased stress and a loss of confidence. More than two thirds of respondents said they did not tell anyone at work. The reasons for this included privacy and a fear of people’s reactions and a significant number did not know who they should tell. 31% of respondents took time off work due to the symptoms.
When asked what employers should do to help support employees, a number of themes emerged including providing adjustments, having policies in place, providing flexibility, educating others, supporting cultural changes and developing support networks.
A report produced by the Fawcett Society, a charity that campaign for gender equality, found that one in ten respondents who had worked during the menopause had left their jobs due to their symptoms. Eight out of ten respondents also said that their employer hadn’t shared information, trained staff or put in place a menopause absence policy.
What can employers do to support their employees?
It is important for employers to educate themselves on the menopause and support staff who are experiencing symptoms or who are otherwise affected.
Providing support to staff experiencing menopausal symptoms could include making adjustments that will help them do their jobs. Some adjustments can be as simple as making fans available if possible or offering staff more breaks.
As recognised by ACAS, creating a positive environment between an employer and someone affected by the menopause can help prevent the person from losing confidence, feeling like they need to take time off work, hiding the impact on them, experiencing mental health conditions such as stress and depression, and leaving their job.
In line with this, it is a good idea for employers to implement a menopause policy setting out its approach to supporting employees with the menopause which can help raise awareness and demonstrate an understanding, and positive work culture, around this matter.
Employmentbuddy has a Menopause Policy that employers can use which can be viewed Employmentbuddy - Menopause policy and our employment team are on hand if you need any assistance.