The BBC has recently reported that their survey found 70% of respondents (1,009 woman aged 50 and 60) did not tell their bosses they were experiencing symptoms from the menopause, mainly because many find it a taboo subject.
The menopause occurs in all women and begins when a woman’s ovaries fail to produce certain hormones, which as a result are thought to be the cause of menopausal symptoms in many women. Some of these can be quite severe and have a significant impact on a woman’s everyday activities.
Menopausal symptoms can last from 4 to 8 years, although some women experience symptoms for much longer and need medication to alleviate the symptoms. Not every woman will experience all of these symptoms and may not occur continuously.
Therefore the menopause could have a significant impact in the workplace for many women, and there are now calls that the Government reviews the situation, namely whether the menopause should be treated in the same way as pregnancies.
We have recently had a number of enquiries from our commercial clients about the menopause, with many deciding to implement reasonable adjustments to assist women who are struggling with the menopause.
Some businesses have also decided to introduce a Menopause Policy in the workplace, to evidence how they will support women in the workplace in this respect.
Although there is no legal requirement for businesses to have a Menopause Policy or implement any reasonable adjustments, it is highly likely to be considered best practice in the future, and especially given that many employers now have a Stress at Work Policy.
The purpose of a Menopause Policy is to ensure all individuals are treated fairly and with dignity and respect in the working environment. Managers should be made aware of menopause related issues and how they can affect members of staff, so that they can confidentially have helpful conversations. Similarly it helps to create an atmosphere where women feel confident to raise issues about their symptoms and ask for adjustments at work.
Many women develop their own strategies during the menopause, however there are areas that employers can provide in order to support women and lessen the impact of the menopause.
In cases of hot flushes, heavy/light periods, headaches, difficulty with sleeping and poor concentration, adjustments in the workplace such as fresh cool air, access to drinking water, access to a restroom and sanitary products, changing rooms, offering a quiet place to work and reviewing task allocations/workloads could all assist women, regardless of the severity and impact on a woman’s everyday activities.
If you require any advice or assistance, in particular with issues about the menopause in your workplace, please do not hesitate to contact Sally Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01905 610410.