The menopause is a natural stage of life and yet, in many workplaces, it is still seen as a taboo topic.
Everyone experiences the menopause differently. Some people notice little impact on their daily life. But, for others, the symptoms can be severe, affecting them both physically and mentally and having a negative impact on their performance and attendance at work.
It’s important that businesses look for ways to support their employees and create an environment in which discussion on the subject is open and honest.
What is the menopause?
The menopause is a natural stage of live, affecting around half of the population, including women, trans people, and intersex people.
The menopause usually occurs sometime between 45 and 55 years of age, but it can happen earlier or later. People experiencing the menopause can go through a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms, which can last for several years.
How can employers support their employees during the menopause?
For employees, the menopause is a health and wellbeing concern and it’s important that it is handled sensitively, as any other health issue would be.
For those experiencing menopause symptoms, it can be incredibly difficult and stressful. So it’s vital that we normalise discussing the impact the menopause can have on employees and ensure there are measures in place to support them.
Any absence relating the menopause must be managed sensitivity. Menopause-related absences should be recorded separately from other absences. Although it’s not a legal requirement, it’s also good practice to allow employees to attend medical appointments related to the menopause.
Identify any reasonable adjustments
Employers should support their employees through every stage of the menopause. Have regular conversations with your employees to ensure you understand their needs and can put procedures in place to enable them to continue to do their job effectively.
Consider how aspects of their job might make menopause symptoms more challenging. This could be factors such as:
- Working long shifts
- Not being able to rake regular toilet breaks
- Wearing restrictive clothing
By identifying any of these factors, you can take steps to minimise their impact on employees. Remember, the menopause effects everyone differently so challenges will also vary from person to person. Small changes can make a huge difference to the quality of working life for employees experiencing the menopause.
It’s important that managers and any other relevant staff, such as the HR team, are trained in how to effectively support employees experiencing menopause symptoms. Training should include:
- Dealing with menopause issues sensitively
- How different stages of the menopause may affect employees
- The support available
- Changes that can be made in the workplace
- The law surrounding the menopause
- Gender identity and discrimination
Ensuring all managers and supervisors have this training will ensure they know how to talk to their team about the menopause and provide the relevant support.
Health and safety
All employers are legally responsible for the health and safety of their employees. This means they must assess any health and safety risks at work, and minimise the risks wherever possible.
A health and safety risk assessment should be carried out for employees experiencing menopause symptoms, including:
- The temperature and ventilation of the workplace
- Is there somewhere for the employee to rest?
- The material and fit of the uniform
- Are toilet facilities easily accessible?
- Is cold drinking water available?
- Have managers and supervisors been trained on the relevant health and safety issues?
A menopause policy
To ensure staff feel fully supported, an increasing number of businesses are introducing menopause policies. This helps ensure that everyone in the company understands what the menopause is, how it can affect people, and the support available.
Key information to cover in a menopause policy includes:
- The training that has been (or will be) provided to managers and supervisors
- The point of contact within the business for queries or concerns relating the menopause
- Information on gender identity and gender reassignment discrimination
Above all, the policy should highlight how the business is dedicated to talking and listening sensitively about how the menopause is affecting their employees.
To find out more about supporting your employees during the menopause and creating an open, inclusive, and supportive culture, please get in touch.