Best Practice for Dealing with the Menopause

Below is a brief guide for managing the menopause in the workplace: 

Menopause and the Workplace

The menopause can have a significant impact for some people and can cause both physical or mental health symptoms which in turn can have a long-term adverse effect on being able to carry out normal daily activities. By way of an example someone could experience depression for a period of time as a result of the menopause, meaning that if it lasts (or it anticipated to last) for 6 months or more the individual is protected under the disability discrimination legislation.

Menopause is not a topic openly discussed in a pragmatic way and can be often alluded to as ‘women’s things’ or even joked about which in itself is likely to fall under sex and/or age discrimination legislation. However, with women making up around 55% of the workplace in Jersey (2011 Census data) discussions around the menopause are likely to be needed in most workplaces at some point. The barrier to having such discussions need to be broken down so that women feel able to discuss any symptoms and the impact the menopause is having on them.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Menopause Society designated October as World Menopause Month, therefore an ideal time for discussions and policies to take place.

Below is a list of widely recognized common menopause symptoms, but bear in mind this is not an exhaustive list and other symptoms can occur:

  • Migraines/headaches
  • Tiredness and/or a decline in energy levels
  • Feeling anxious and panic attacks
  • A decline in concentration or ability to focus
  • Hot flushes

What Can Employers Do?

Think about:                                    

  • Raising awareness among managers of the impact on an individuals’ health the menopause can have;
  • Develop a culture whereby women feel comfortable about discussing any symptoms and the impact that has/or may have on their work;
  • All employees have the right to request flexible working, and may wish to exercise their right to do this to enable them to assist with managing symptoms, however this can be offered without the formal steps being taken as part of the duty to make reasonable adjustments;
  • Accessible support – informal or formal (check if your employee health helpline covers the menopause);
  • Consider if there are environmental changes that can be made to say ventilation/temperature or air conditioning – consider the use of individual desk fans;
  • Develop a policy with helpful access points for employees where more information and/or services can be found, include the fact that the menopause maybe a long-term/ongoing health issue;
  • Record menopause sickness/absence as an ongoing health issue rather than a series of individual shorter-term absences;
  • Performance management policies to have the focus on the support to enable an employee to perform their role;

What Can Employees Do?

Think about:

  • Finding our what options/choices there are for treatment of symptoms;
  • Discuss with HR or a line manager/colleague you feel comfortable with and ask for some support if it is needed;
  • Be honest about symptoms and any impact they may be having;
  • Look for solutions to assist like taking more notes in meetings or setting up online reminders if these would help;
  • Consider making a flexible working request;
  • Do not suffer in silence.

The Benefits Of Supporting Employees Through the Menopause

  • Lower sickness/absence levels;
  • Demonstrates a company which supports disability/age/gender diversity;
  • Increases retention so reduces employee turnover and costs;
  • Supports wellbeing of employees and prevents discrimination claims;

 

JACS 2021

 

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