Menopause at work
Menopausal women are the fastest growing sector of the workforce†, so it makes sense for more workplaces to become menopause-friendly
What’s it like to deal with menopause symptoms at work?
Each menopause experience is unique. Some women don’t really notice any menopause symptoms, and some don’t want to be singled out as ‘different’ at work. What we do know is that around three out of five women feel their menopause symptoms have a negative impact on their work‡‡, and one in four consider leaving their jobs†††.
By listening and providing the right menopause support at work, employers can help to make things better − for these women, for their wider workforce, and for the business as a whole.
Every menopause experience is different. While some women don’t notice many menopause symptoms, others can struggle with a range of physical and mental challenges which can really affect their confidence and their performance at work.
For example, tiredness and difficulty with memory and concentration are common menopause symptoms, and they can affect work. You might feel embarrassed in front of other people if hot flushes cause you to turn red, perspire and feel flustered. Some women experience depression or anxiety.
If you’re experiencing symptoms which genuinely mean you can’t work, it doesn’t matter what the underlying cause is. For example, some severe menopause symptoms include headaches, diarrhoea, joint pain, dizzy spells, heart palpitations or even anxiety attacks.
Menopause is covered under the Equality Act 2010, which protects you when it comes to your sex, age, or any disability. It’s also covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, because you’re entitled to a safe working environment.
More and more organisations are seeking to support people with specific concerns. For example, some have introduced mental health first-aiders for their employees, or are training staff to support customers with dementia. In the same way, some are introducing menopause-friendly workplaces.
It’s important to begin by understanding the menopause, and making it okay to talk about the menopause at work. After that, options could include flexible hours to help women work around their worst symptoms, or later start times for coping with insomnia. Employers might provide a fan for cool air, or alternative uniforms if they’re made from synthetic fabrics.
If you’re an employee, you might feel able to open a conversation with your manager or your HR department. Talk to them about becoming a menopause-friendly workplace and even developing a menopause policy.
A menopause policy is designed to help everyone understand the menopause better, and to support women going through the menopause. A good policy will also provide support for employees whose partners are going through the menopause, as well as the colleagues of those who are.
Having a menopause policy shows that this issue is taken seriously at the highest levels of the organisation, and it sets out ways of providing practical support. If you’re an employer, some good places to start include Menopause in the Workplace, the CIPD (PDF, 0.8MB), Unison (PDF, 0.5MB) and the TUC (PDF, 0.8MB).
More places to find menopause support and information
When it comes to the menopause, there are so many questions − and everyone’s experience is different. So we’ve gathered together more information to help you.
Quick links to helpful pages within our Women’s Health Hub
† Department for Work and Pensions
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/568240/employment-stats-workers-aged-50-and-over-1984-2015 (PDF, 0.3MB)
†† Menopause in the Workplace
‡‡ Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
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