7. Menopause and the Workplace

Effects of the Menopause

Menopause is a natural stage of life as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline, and they stop having periods, although experiences vary between individuals and for some, symptoms can have both a physical and mental effect on their wellbeing. It usually takes place between the ages of 45 – 55, and symptoms usually last around 4 years, but menopause can also happen earlier or later in someone’s life, and for some, symptoms can last a lot longer.

Common symptoms (which can range from very mild to severe) can include hot flushes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, low mood or anxiety, problems with memory and concentration.

Why should employers be aware of the menopause?

Menopause is a health and wellbeing concern which needs to be handled sensitively. colleagues that are undergoing specific treatment for gender reassignment or other hormonal treatments may experience similar symptoms to menopause so each employee regardless of their perceived age or gender should be treated equally. If an employee is put at a disadvantage and treated less favourably because of their menopause symptoms, this could be discrimination if related to a protected characteristic (e.g. age, disability, sex or gender reassignment).

What can employers do to support your employees?

Below are some pointers around how you may support your employees on this matter:

  • Put a support policy in place
  • Stop the taboo, Talk about it; ensure managers know how to have conversations with employees about the menopause, what support is available and any policies in place.
  • Consider the person’s job role and responsibilities; such as shift lengths, toilet breaks, and flexibility.
  • Carry out a health and safety risk assessment; ensure that symptoms are not made worse by the workplace or its practices.
  • Develop a Menopause policy to increase the understanding of the menopause, as well as communicating any training and points of contact within the company.
  • Consider reasonable adjustments; particularly if there are sickness absence or job performance issues (you also may want to consider getting a medical opinion, e.g. Occupational Health).

Companies should help support each colleague's individual needs, as best they can within the limitations of their policy, and ensure that any policy is written in a fair and balanced manner considering the needs of the wider organisation also.