Let’s Normalise the Menopause

Posted in : HR Updates on 8 February 2022
Olga Pollock
firmus energy
Issues covered: Menopause Policy; Discrimination and Equality; HR Updates

The menopause is a hot topic right now and rightly so given that menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in today’s workforce. The menopause is a natural time of ageing in a woman’s life but for many, symptoms go well beyond hot flushes or mood swings that are typically associated with this stage in life. Symptoms can be debilitating and can include cognitive, physical and psychological issues such as heart palpitations, fatigue, sleep disturbance, headaches, anxiety and poor concentration. Recent research also suggests that as oestrogen levels decline, women can be at greater risk of long Covid.

These symptoms can have a devastating impact on women in the workplace often when they have reached their career peak with many having to take time off on sickness absence while others even consider leaving their jobs due to the negative impact of their symptoms.

In order to avoid potential discrimination claims and loss of productivity we need to normalise offering menopause support much in the same way we support people suffering from physical or mental health conditions.

Line managers should be trained to have open conversations with employees about what they’re experiencing so that they can signpost them to professional help and offer workplace support such as flexible working or amended duties. Conversations around menopause shouldn’t be taboo and webinars or lunch & learns can be a great way to raise awareness and break down stigmas.

Flexible working and sickness absence policies should include reference to menopausal symptoms and should provide details on Employee Assistance Programmes or virtual GP services where available. Ideally staff should have access to medical practitioners who specialise in supporting menopausal symptoms.

The menopause can no longer be something employers shy away from or adopt a laissez faire approach to. It is vital that women are supported to thrive and stay well in the workplace. The menopause can have a wider pressures in the workplace in terms of the strain placed on working relationships where colleagues have to pick up the work of absent staff, not to mention the impact of absence on productivity.

With over 3.5 million working women over 50 in the UK, employers need to set the menopause as an important business agenda both to retain existing employees but also to attract the best female talent going forward.

Useful Reading:

CIPD – A Guide to Managing Menopause at Work  https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/line-manager-guide-to-menopause_tcm18-95174.pdf  

Rachel Richardson, Tughans – Introducing a Menopause Policy https://www.legal-island.com/articles/uk/features/how-do-i-handle-it/2022/january/introducing-a-menopause-policy/

This article is correct at 08/02/2022

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Olga Pollock
firmus energy

The main content of this article was provided by Olga Pollock. Contact telephone number is +44 (0)79 7389 3448 or email oppollock@firmusenergy.co.uk

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