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How can you support employees going through the menopause?


Research from the CIPD revealed that 3 out of 5 working women between the ages of 45 and 55 who are experiencing menopause symptoms say it has a negative impact on them at work.

The number of women aged 50 and above in the UK population is increasing, and with 1 in 8 of the British workforce being over 50, it is becoming more common that women will be affected by the menopause while working, and that other employees will be supporting family and friends experiencing the menopause.

The average age of the menopause is 51 but, typically, women experience at least some symptoms for around 4 years. For some women, symptoms such as hot flushes, difficulty sleeping and problems with memory and concentration can have a significant impact on their daily life. Whilst these will not usually amount to a disability, it still makes sense to make simple adjustments to help women with severe symptoms keep working effectively. You might also face age discrimination, sex discrimination or unfair dismissal claims if you treat a woman unfairly because she’s going through the menopause. Despite the fact that the menopause is being talked about more in the workplace, there is still lots more we need to do, with many women who take time off work due to menopause symptoms not disclosing this to their employer.


So, what can you do to create a supportive culture for women in your workplace?


Make a statement

There are a number of ways you can create a company culture that is supportive of women experiencing menopausal symptoms. Spreading awareness through days like World Menopause Day and mentioning it in your communications with your staff can help.


Why not put in place a Menopause Policy? Or go one step further and introduce a Menstrual Health policy covering a wider range of female health conditions. Policies can explain your approach and contain guidance on menopause to help everyone better understand the issue and potential symptoms and the effect they can have, as well as potential adjustments and considerations that can be helpful to implement.


A policy is a great way to promote your approach across your organisation and open up the conversation.

 

Open up conversations

It is vital that if your employees are struggling with menopausal symptoms, that they feel comfortable and confident enough to ask for support. Different employees will experience symptoms differently and so being able to listen and understand the impact in individual situations is important.

 

As the conversation surrounding menopause talk can still be stigmatised, it’s a good idea to reassure employees that any discussions about their health, work performance, or absence caused by the menopause will always remain confidential.

 

You can also encourage them to discuss these issues with people they feel most comfortable with, for example, a colleague they are comfortable with. It can be helpful to specify in your menopause policy an alternative contact for people to approach, perhaps if they feel uncomfortable talking to their manager about it.  This might be someone involved with occupational health, or an Employee Assistance Programme, if you have one. It could be another employee or someone from an external provider, such as an HR Consultant – the important thing is that staff know where to find this information and who to contact.

 

 Offer practical support

There are ways that you can offer practical support in addition to someone empathetic to talk to. In the same way that you would try to accommodate reasonable adjustments for employees with other sorts of health conditions or disabilities, you could discuss with your employee whether you can make any changes to their working pattern or their location that might help.

 

Even simple changes in the workplace can have a positive effect on work performance and general wellbeing. This can include physical changes including moving desk to be closer to a window for fresh air or installing a water cooler or a fan in the office space. As hybrid working is becoming increasingly common in small businesses, could you offer home working for part of the week to members of staff who would feel more comfortable in their own space?

 

Manage sickness absence sensitively

As the menopause is a long-term condition and a health change that fluctuates regularly, there may be times when sickness absence is unavoidable.  Dealing with this sensitively and sympathetically will be an important part of your understanding culture.

 

Do you have a menopause policy to support employees in your small business? Or need help with HR support to assist with policies like these? Contact our HR Team who will be happy to discuss your needs.


Check out other blogs in this series:


If you would like support with initiatives to improve company culture or wellbeing initiatives, get in touch via clientservices@robinsongracehr.com or call us on 01793 311937.


The content of our blogs is intended for general information and not to replace legal or other professional advice.


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