Menopause is likely to affect half of your employees during their working life. Understanding the symptoms can help you reduce sick days for women. There are several ways you can help employees – but do you need a menopause policy at work? In this blog, we take a look at the impact of menopause and how you can help women at work.
Impact of Menopause at Work
In fact, perimenopause can affect women from their 30s all the way up to retirement age. As more women are working later in life, employers may find they need to make new adjustments for women as they age.
There are over 34 different symptoms of menopause. Not everyone will experience all symptoms and there will be women with no symptoms at all. For the women who are suffering, it can have a serious impact on their work.
How Does Menopause Affect You at Work?
Hot sweats that come on fast and may make it difficult to concentrate. A quick fix for this is opening a window or having a desk fan to hand. However, loss of sleep and night sweats can be more problematic and might need extra support such as flexible working hours and location.
There may be more medical appointments as a woman goes through menopause. Plus, headaches and migraines can impact their work. Depression and anxiety are also known side-effects of menopause. It’s important to support staff and their wellbeing through this period and be aware of all the symptoms of menopause.
Menopause at Work
Dee Murray, founder and CEO at Menopause Experts Group, said: “We regularly hear horror stories about how women are discriminated against in the workforce, and sadly menopause is one area where employers keep getting it wrong.
“This dramatic rise in the number of employment tribunals citing menopause shows how women are standing up for themselves against outdated and ill-informed bosses. The lack of education is dangerous for women’s health and unfair to their careers.
“What’s frustrating is the fact that there are so many training courses available to employers. Teaching our colleagues about menopause is vital if we are going to remove the stigma surrounding what is a big part of a woman’s life.”
One of the ways to reduce the risk of grievances and tribunal is to set out how you’re supporting women as they go through menopause. Training for the leadership team will also help them understand the reality of the symptoms and bust some of the pervasive myths.
In fact, one local council are providing training for men so they can understand the impact of menopausal symptoms on their female co-workers. This is a positive step to help de-stigmatise menopause in the workplace and help retain experienced staff.
Benefits of a Menopause Policy at Work
Research by Bupa and CIPD finds that 900,000 women have left their place of work as a result of menopausal symptoms.
For many women, discussing menopause may not be an option at exit interviews and so employers may be unaware of how much talent they are losing as result.
Staff are protected by law against discrimination based on sex. This means that employers cannot treat women any differently because they are experiencing menopause. Moreover, MPs are considering updating equality laws to give further protection to women experiencing menopause in the workplace.
One particular claimant who suffered hot sweats and night sweats had her menopause symptoms classed as a disability. Her long-term suffering as a result of her menopause experience left her unable to do her usual daily activities.
Can You Have Time Off Work for Menopause?
Staff are not able to have specific time off to cope with menopause or its associated symptoms. If a member of staff is suffering, they may need to take time off sick.
However, as we’ve already seen, it may be possible for the symptoms to be classed as a disability. This means that employers need to make some reasonable adjustments. Flexible working hours and locations can help. As can making changes to how someone works in the office, such as having a desk fan or sitting by an open window.
This is why having a menopause policy will help both employers and their staff know what they can and cannot expect when it comes to adverse symptoms. Understanding menopause and how it might impact your staff can also help avoid unnecessary sick days.
What Can Employers Do to Support Menopause?
As we’ve seen with the council in Liverpool, training can help managers understand the impact of menopause. Giving women space to report symptoms and talk about them with HR – without the risk of embarrassment – can help managers understand what’s happening. This in turn can help put steps in place to support women when they are suffering.
As your workforce ages, there will be more adjustments you need to make to help your staff through these stages of life. It means that, as an employer, you don’t lose the talent and experience of more established members of the team.
Do You Need a Menopause Policy at Work?
It’s not a legal requirement to have a menopause policy at work but having one will bring benefits to your business and your staff. It can set out what support someone can get and how you manage symptoms that impact work. A policy will also help reduce time off work and make your staff feel more supported.
Plus, if changes go through parliament to make menopause a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equalities Act, then you will be prepared in advance for any changes you need to make.
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