Menopause in the Workplace

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 29 July 2021
Caroline Reidy (McEnery)
The HR Suite
Issues covered: Menopause

What Is It? 

The menopause is sometimes known as the 'change of life' and is marked by the ending of menstruation. The menopause is a natural part of life, but it can feel like a great taboo in the workplace. The average age for a woman to reach the menopause is between 45 and 55 who are often reaching senior positions and/or established in their careers.  It is a natural part of the life cycle which we need to normalize. 

Symptoms 

It is estimated that 8 out of 10 women experience symptoms leading up to the menopause. Of these, 45% find their symptoms difficult to deal with.  In most cases, the first symptom is a change in the usual pattern of your periods where there have been no menstrual cycles for 12 consecutive months, but a woman can be affected by the symptoms for a long time before that. This is typically known as the perimenopausal period which can last four to six years before the natural menopause. Without treatment, most menopausal symptoms gradually stop naturally. This usually happens two to five years after the symptoms start, although some women experience symptoms for many more years.  The common symptoms are: irregular and/or heaving periods, hot flushes, night sweats, emotional changes, difficulty concentrating, migraines, fatigue, trouble sleeping and loss of confidence. 

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in the UK carried out a survey in 2019.  Around 59% said the menopause was having a negative impact on them at work. The following issues were raised:

  • More than half (52%) said they felt less patient with clients and colleagues.
  • More than half (58%) said they experienced more stress.
  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) said they were less able to concentrate.
  • Nearly a third of women surveyed (30%) said they had taken sick leave because of their symptoms, but only a quarter of them felt able to tell their manager the real reason for their absence. Privacy (45%) was the number one consideration for women choosing not to disclose. A third (34%) said embarrassment prevented them from saying why they had to take time off and another third (32%) said an unsupportive manager was the reason.

What Can Employers Do to Help? 

Employers have responsibilities for the health and safety of all their employees, but there are also clear business reasons for proactively managing an age and gender diverse workforce. 

  • Be aware and understand: It is important that as an employer that you keep an open attitude and are aware of what they are going through, so that they don’t feel alone or embarrassed in certain situations.  Open the lines of communication by having information proactively available to employees and encourage them to talk to HR or their manager referencing the matter. Managers should be trained to understand the impact that the menopause can have on work and what adjustments may be necessary to support those affected. 
  • Standalone Policy:  Some employers may want to consider adopting a specific standalone policy covering the menopause, directing the employees to HR or support channels if they feel adjustments to their schedule or workplace could be helpful. 
  • Improvements to workplace practices: Guidance for both employees and managers on dealing with the menopause should be freely available in the workplace. Simple things such as changes to temperature in the office can make all the difference, especially for those who may be having hot flushes. 
  • Implement flexible working options: By allowing flexible working this can make it easier for women if they need more breaks during the day, attend medical appointments, and can allow them to manage their working hours. 
  • Support Network: Having organisational support is crucial in getting through this period and by having a good support system this can help alleviate the pressure. It also can help to reduce the stigma surrounding the menopause, which can help to make those within the organisation much more aware. 
  • Open Door Policy:Do youoperate an open-door policy with staff with regard to work related or personal problems which are always treated in the strictest confidence? If you, as management, can be of assistance in resolving such problems or allying fears your policies should reflect this where the business will make time for employees and listen sympathetically. 
  • Employee Assistance Programmes: This is a confidential and impartial counselling and advice services which most companies offer to help employees resolve difficulties which may affect health, well-being or work performance.  Is this in place within your company?  If not please contact The HR Suite for costings. 

Contact The HR Suite:   
This article was provided by the HR Suite.  If you have any queries in relation to this article please contact them on 066-7102887 and they would be happy to deal with your query.

This article is correct at 29/07/2021
Disclaimer:

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Caroline Reidy (McEnery)
The HR Suite

The main content of this article was provided by Caroline Reidy (McEnery). Contact telephone number is +353 66 710 2887 / +353 86 775 2064 or email info@thehrsuite.com

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