What are you doing to manage the impact of menopause in the workplace?
Managing the impact of the menopause at work is an important issue all employers must address.
Whilst this may have been something management may have preferred to shy away from in the past, the potential effects of menopause on women at work can no longer be ignored. Those effects can easily lead to grievances and employment claims if they are not dealt with.
What do the statistics tell us?
• Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workforce.
• 51% of the population is female. Of these, 71% work and 4.3 million women over 50 years of age are in the workforce.
• The average age for a woman to through the menopause is 51. It can be earlier than this and symptoms may start years before the menopause during the perimenopause phase.
• According to the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, nearly 8 out of 10 of menopausal women are in work.
How can the menopause impact on work?
All women experience menopause differently. It is estimated that 75% of women experience some form of symptoms and of those, 25% have extreme symptoms. The symptoms can be physical (hot flushes, headaches, poor sleep and erratic periods) or psychological (anxiety, low mood, lack or confidence and poor concentration). Many employees still don’t admit to their symptoms at work.
In addition, many who take time off work because of the menopause do not tell their employer the real reason for their absence. This can be for a number of reasons. Including being embarrassed, the fear their symptoms will not be taken seriously. And the feeling they don’t have a good enough relationship with their manager to discuss something so personal.
What can you do as an employer?
• Make sure that Health and Safety checks are suitable. For example assessments should include checking the temperature of and ventilation in the workplace.
• Consider providing affected staff with somewhere suitable to rest, cool down with fans or even allow them to work from home if appropriate.
• Develop a policy and train managers on how to have conversations with staff raising a menopause concern. Consider what support and/or adjustments that might be appropriate.
• Carefully manage sickness absence. Menopause is a long-term and fluctuating health change which could lead to the employee having health issues that could be considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010.
• Watch out for a dip in performance, issues with colleagues and/ or behaviour that is out of character for the employee. Handle such issues with care and sensitivity rather than ‘jumping the gun’ with harsh disciplinary action.
• Consider having a menopause or wellbeing champion in your workplace.
Employers that take the time to understand how the menopause is affecting individual employees (rather than assuming that everyone needs the same thing) will give you a much better chance of retaining the experience, knowledge and support of your employees as well as making it much more likely you’ll avoid any potential claims.
If you would like to discuss how best to redraft your current procedures to make sure you are providing your female employees with the support they need, please call Charlotte Middleton on 0114 290 6286 or email Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org